Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems


Alongside other methodological affinities between contemporary Scandinavian information systems research and social anthropology, the modes of reflexivity that have come to characterize each differ. Reflexivity in the former concerns an ‘otherness’ of technology, which is related to the users and their practices, while reflexivity within social anthropology concerns the encounter between the textuality of representations of others. Although the representational practices of the discipline continue to be a matter of concern for the latter, information systems research has not come to take such a concern as a clearly legitimate object of research. Drawing on Foucault, this paper aims to contribute to the development of information systems research work in ways that fortify our capacity to render the historicity and politics of representation. Three texts written by researchers from and associated with the Århus group in the period between 1970s-1990s are considered, with respect to the question of how particular enunciations are linked to the construction of an expert domain, to new forms of legitimacy, and to the differentiation of successive ‘movements’. The paper suggests implications of such differentiations for how the object domain of information systems research has been shaped. Though legitimizing, the process of distancing effects the production of knowledge and folds technology, users, methods and research designers in a specific way. In these terms, the process of distancing works as a fixating gatekeeper that ex- and includes certain aspects of what it means to be a research designer and what kind of questions are legitimate to ask.