Call for Papers - Technology Matters and Matters of Technology: Exploring Theories of "Materiality" for Technology Research - June 25, 2018

A workshop in Portsmouth UK, part of ECIS 2018, providing an opportunity to explore new ideas, get feedback for ongoing research, and engage in lively and critical debate around the ‘materiality turn’ and its usefulness for studying technology-related phenomena.
Deadline for applications: April 13, 2018

Niemimaa, M. , Faculty of Information Technology, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
Schultze, U. , Information Technology and Operations Management, Southern Methodist University,
van den Heuvel, G. G. A. , Department of Organization Studies, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
Karsten, H. , Information Systems, Åbo Akademi, Finland
Bødker, M. , Department of Digitalization, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark
Hanseth, O ., Department for Informatics, University of Oslo, Norway
ECIS website here

Technologies have profoundly reconfigured the material fabric of our lives (Zammuto et al., 2007). Our lives both in and out of work have increasingly become entangled with technologies that are now broadly recognized as not merely mediators but performative (Jonsson et al., 2009) of various forms of activities and walks of life. We no longer refer to the metaphor of technology as a ‘tool’ but rather discuss of infrastructures, platforms, and fabric when describing our relationship with these technologies. Several commentators have argued that the technologies are so foundational to our contemporary lives that we need philosophical and theoretical insights that no longer treat the social and the material as separate concerns but view them entangled as sociomaterial (Suchman, 2007; Orlikowski & Scott, 2008). Simultaneously, we seem to lack the necessary boilerplate to describe the sociomaterial phenomena and many have felt contempt to resort to various neologisms resulting in “jargon monoxide” (Kautz & Jensen, 2013). Others have proposed using more familiar concepts such as assemblages (Sesay et al., 2016), cyborgs (Cecez-Kecmanovic et al., 2014) and even monsters (Aanestad et al., 2017) to describe the reconfigurings we experience and see around us. We need both new theoretical and philosophical insights and conceptual tools to describe the reconfigurings of the material fabric brought about by technologies.
A key to explaining these changes lies in our understanding of the materiality of technologies. Indeed, following Orlikowski’s (Orlikowski & Iacono, 2001; Orlikowski, 2007; Orlikowski & Scott, 2008) initial contributions, scholars have shown phenomenal interest toward the topic (Jones, 2014). So far, two philosophical perspectives, critical realism (e.g., Bhaskar, 2008) and agential realism (Barad, 2007), have provided the main the sources of inspiration for information systems (IS) scholars to describe the materiality of a broad range of technology-related phenomena (Cecez-Kecmanovic et al., 2014). Opposition between these two “camps” have occasionally been intense and heated (Mutch, 2013; Leonardi, 2013; Scott & Orlikowski, 2013; Hassan, 2016). Their conceptions even on the most fundamental concepts of matter and materiality have been found ambiguous, broadly different, and incommensurable (Kautz & Jensen, 2013; Jones, 2014). However, if we accept that the aim of our theorizing “is not to finally, once and for all, catch reality as it really is...Instead it is to shift our understanding and to attune to reality differently” (Mol, 2010, p. 255), we begin to see that we need more, not less, theories of materiality. Different perspectives on materiality may help us to orient ourselves differently in order to develop explanations and theories of the complex technological changes happening around us.
IS scholars have not been alone in their interest to materiality. What has already become coined as “materialist turn” has swept across most of social sciences (Pels et al., 2002; van der Tuin & Dolphjin, 2010; Dolphijn & van der Tuin, 2012). These scholars have (re)turned to (re)read “old” materialist and structuralist thinkers like Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Godelier, Gilles Deleuze, and Michel Foucault. Even “those pre-modern philosophers such as Duns Scotus, Lucretius and the whole Stoic tradition, whose work is not (that) effected by dualist thought, are being read like never before” (Van der Tuin & Dolphijn, 2010, p. 167). But these discussions have not merely recycled old ideas but developed (sometimes even radical) views on matter and materiality. For these “new materialist” thinkers, matter is no longer a passive substrate “out there”, but an active and dynamic agent that is processual, becoming, generative, resisting, lively, vital, yearning, and suffering (e.g., DeLanda 2016, Braidotti, 2002; Barad, 2007; Bennett, 2009; Coole & Frost, 2010; Pickering, 1995). These developments, have not gone without criticism. As Ingold (2007) criticizes: “What academic perversion leads us to speak not of materials and their properties but of the materiality of objects ? It seemed to me that the concept of materiality, whatever it might mean, has become a real obstacle to sensible enquiry into materials, their transformations and affordances.” (p. 3) Materiality has largely remained ambiguous and insufficiently theorized (Jones, 2013).

In this workshop, we encourage scholars to take stock and explore different theories of materiality. Given that these theories originate from fields other than IS, they need further articulation and development if they are to support IS scholars to theorize about technologies and technology-related phenomena. We are interested in both conceptual and empirical contributions that show how different theories of materiality may influence the way in which we understand and describe technologies and study technology-related phenomena. We also welcome studies that are critical of materiality and that show how materiality may actually become an obstacle to understanding technologies. We encourage scholars to take broadly use of philosophical and theoretical ideas on materiality and matter across disciplines. Possible topics include but are not limited to the theoretical foundations for the materiality of:

● Wearable computing (e.g., Küchler, 2008; Sesay et al., 2016; Prasopoulou, 2017)
● Healthcare systems (e.g., Jones, 2014)
● Identity (e.g., Schultze, 2014; Nyberg, 2009)
● Information security and security technologies (e.g., Aradau, 2010; Coles-Kemp, 2010;
Vuorinen & Tetri, 2012; Niemimaa & Laaksonen, 2015; Harnesk & Thapa, 2016)
● Algorithms (e.g., Scott & Orlikowski, 2015; Introna & Hayes, 2011)
● (Cyber)Space (e.g., de Vaujany & Vaast, 2014; Rodrigues et al., 2017)
● Infrastructures (e.g., Henningsson & Hanseth, 2011; Østerlie et al., 2012; Parmiggiani &
Monteiro, 2015; Niemimaa, 2016)

The workshop does not publish proceedings or provide fast-track to journals. It provides a scholarly space for open discussion and debate in order to explore new and fresh ideas and to develop further more mature ideas.

We ask authors to submit their extended abstract (1500 words) or a short paper (five (5) pages) to The workshop committee will process the submissions and select papers based on
the quality and fit to workshop’s theme.

Submission Deadline: April 13, 2018
Notification to Authors: May 11, 2018
Deadline for Final Papers: June 1, 2018

Full details and references in PDF here

COST Action IS1307 New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on 'How Matter Comes to Matter'.

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With the changing of societies on local, national and international scales owing to economic, ecological, political and technological developments and crises, a reorganized academic landscape can be observed to be emerging. Scholarship strives to become increasingly interdisciplinary in order to grasp and examine the unfolding complexity of ongoing ecological, socio-cultural and politico-economic changes. Additionally, academics forge... Read more or find out Who's Who

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Genealogies of New Materialisms; examines and intervenes in canonization processes by compiling a web-based bibliography, coordinating the OST 068/13 8 EN... Read more

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New Materialisms on the Crossroads of the Natural and Human Sciences; seeks to develop new materialisms at the boundaries of the human and natural sciences. The group focuses on how European new materialisms can rework the ‘Two Cultures' gap... Read more

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New Materialisms Embracing the Creative Arts; brings together European researchers, artists, museum professionals, and other activists with a keen interest in the material... Read more

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New Materialisms Tackling Economical and Identity – Political Crises and Organizational Experiments... Read more


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New Materialism —
Networking European Scholarship on 'How matter comes to matter’

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