Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 177–190 | Cite as

Do categories have politics?

The language/action perspective reconsidered
  • Lucy Suchman


Drawing on writings within the CSCW community and on recent social theory, this paper proposes that the adoption of speech act theory as a foundation for system design carries with it an agenda of discipline and control over organization members' actions. I begin with a brief review of the language/action perspective introduced by Winograd, Flores and their colleagues, focusing in particular on the categorization of speakers' intent. I then turn to some observations on the politics of categorization and, with that framework as back-ground, consider the attempt, throughthe coordinator, to implement a technological system for intention-accounting within organizations. Finally, I suggest the implications of the analysis presented in the paper for the politics of CSCW systems design.

Key words

Coordination technologies organizational communications speech act theory systems design 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucy Suchman
    • 1
  1. 1.Xerox Palo Alto Research CenterUSA

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