Information Systems as Dialectic, Tool - Mediated Activity

Helen Hasan

Abstract


Information Systems (IS) draws its significance from the uniqueness of computer-based information and communications tools and their place in shaping recent human history. Advances in the field come from a better understanding of how to develop and use these tools and what impact they have on the way we work, and live. As IS is still an evolving field of study, two views, the objective and the subjective, are in constant tension and, though these may be considered complementary, it is rare that they come together as a unified whole. A more balanced, and integrated, foundation for IS may be found in the subject-object dialectic arising out of the German philosophical tradition. An extension of this approach from the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory is presented in this paper. This theory views all human endeavour as a purposeful, dynamic, dialectic relationship between subject and object, mediated by tools, such as technology and information, and by the social environment or community. An adaptation of this holistic theory, to incorporate the best of other theoretical approaches used by IS researchers, could span and integrate the breadth of the field IS providing it with unity and identity.

Keywords


foundations of information systems; FOIS; dialectics; holistic

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3127/ajis.v10i1.441

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ISSN: Online: 1326-2238 Hard copy: 1449-8618
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