, Volume 13, Issue 1-2, pp 69-87

Life-worlds and social relations in computers

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Abstract

How are social relations appearing in computers? How are social relations realised in a different kind of medium, in the hardware and software of computers? How are the organising principles of computer building related to those of the life-worlds in a social system? Following a partly social constructivist and partly hermeneutic line a more general answer will be presented. The basic conclusion of this approach is simple: computers are constructed under the influence of the ideas of modernity and represent its structure, interests and values, in contrast to computer networks, which embody the ideas of postmodernity.

This paper is based on a lecture given at the Japanese STS conference entitledInternational Conference on Science, Technology and Society. Science and Society-Technological Turn, in Tokyo, March 1998. A preliminary collection of these ideas was presented at an Austrian-Hungarian Networking workshop in Otterthal in 1996. A part of that lecture will be published under the title ‘Society in Computers’ in the proceedings of the workshop in the near future.