Philosophical Foundations for a Critical Evaluation of the Social Impact of ICT

Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 17, pp. 89-99, 2002

22 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2005

See all articles by David O'Donnell

David O'Donnell

Intellectual Capital Research Institute of Ireland

Lars Bo Henriksen

Aalborg University - Department of Development & Planning

Abstract

How do we critically evaluate the social impact of the information and communications technology (ICT) that, in the developed world at least, is central to both economy and society. Market oriented, functionalist and instrumental views tend to dominate discourse on ICT and the purpose of this paper is to challenge such views by suggesting a critical neohumanist alternative. Harvey's critical analysis of recent industrial society, Aristotle's concept of phronesis and Heidegger's tool analysis set the scene for the main argument of the paper based on Habermas' Theory of Communicative Action. Using an illustrative case vignette from the Irish community sector, we argue that this theory provides potentially valid philosophical and social theoretical guidelines for a critical interpretive evaluation of the social impact of ICT that focuses attention on normative (Lifeworld) as distinct from instrumental (System) forms of rationality.

Keywords: Critical social theory, critical theory, method, Habermas, ICT evaluation, social impact of ICT

JEL Classification: J78, L80, O10, O33, P10, R10

Suggested Citation

O'Donnell, David and Henriksen, Lars Bo, Philosophical Foundations for a Critical Evaluation of the Social Impact of ICT. Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 17, pp. 89-99, 2002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=818024

David O'Donnell (Contact Author)

Intellectual Capital Research Institute of Ireland ( email )

Clonee Road
Ballyagran
Limerick County
Ireland

Lars Bo Henriksen

Aalborg University - Department of Development & Planning ( email )

Fredrik Bajers Vej 7E
Aalborg, DK-9220
Denmark

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