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Constituting Users in Requirements Techniques

  • C. Westrup
Part of the IFIP — The International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT)

Abstract

This paper explores the concepts of the “user” and “user participation” in the information systems (IS) literatures. It argues that categories such as future IS users are constituted by the processes of systems development such as requirements analysis techniques. The upshot of this argument is straightforward: qualitative research should not naively deploy categories such as users without acknowledging the considerable work that has gone into their constitution. This is not just an important academic nicety: constituting categories such as users and developers is shown to be a major concern of those engaged in systems development because it facilitates control of this process. The paper examines two well known approaches to systems development that involve users: ETHICS/QUICKethics and the Scandinavian cooperative approach, to show their constitutive effects. While agreeing that user participation is desirable, this paper makes four points that compromise many of the ambitions of user participation in systems development. First, that user participation is engaging in a political process in which issues of representation are central; second, that users (and systems developers) are categories constituted by these processes of systems development; third, that the users’ ability to speak for the organization is usually limited; and finally, that users need to be wary of how information technology is represented to them by developers. Through these arguments, this paper seeks to contribute to the issue of researching IS by showing difficulties in the very vocabularies of systems development.

Keywords

System Development Infonnation System Requirement Technique Requirement Analysis User Involvement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Westrup
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Accounting and FinanceUniversity of Manchester ManchesterEngland

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