Abstract

Although digital technologies are fundamentally changing the way people work and live, recent information systems research highlights the continuing lack of novelty and diversity in IS theory. The unifying principles of Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity are the multifarious uncertainties produced by postmodern change as it relates to our modernising and human need for rationalistic order and sense-making. With IS deemed by some the paradigmatic liquid discipline, this research-in-progress considers the merits of liquid modernity as both an alternative and supplementary socio-philosophical lens for utilised epistemologies of change, such as forms of complexity theory. Bauman’s unorthodox decision to prioritise ethics over ontology positions liquid modernity as a potential alternative to predominating technocentric IS theories habitually imbued with a neoliberal capitalist agenda that can intensify societal inequalities. Liquid-modern principles may additionally help address the paucity of philosophical and historical comprehension prevalent across IS. Already providing significant value in other disciplines, liquid modernity remains virtually unknown in information systems. This research-inprogress aims to justify the synthesis of a liquid-modern framework for application in IS research and development; introduce the core principles of liquid modernity with associated IS application areas; consider the limitations of liquid-modern theory and outline our research-in-progress ‘next steps’.

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