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Abstract

Ethnography is an approach to social inquiry developed by anthropologists and recently adopted by interpretive information systems researchers. In recent debates in anthropology, radical changes regarding appropriate approaches to ethnography have been presented. This paper looks at those changes and applies the debate to interpretive information systems research. The key assumption in this paper is that information systems is a discipline that is changing within a socio-historical context. Looking at interpretive information systems research as an emergent area in the discipline of information systems, an analysis is conducted of a product of the socio-historical context in order to illustrate the flux of changes which appear to be happening. These changes are related to the debates on ethnography in anthropology. The product of socio-historical disciplinary change which is analyzed is an unpublished Ph.D. thesis completed in the United States in 1988 (Orlikowski, 1988). The analysis is carried out through a textual re-reading of this thesis, concentrating on genres as indicators of flux in ideological changes regarding the move from an essentially realist genre to what may be described as a more evocative, or postmodern, genre. The importance of discourse and genre textuality is discussed. The aim in this paper is demonstrate how information systems researchers act within socio-historical contexts which reflect disciplinary changes. The argument is that information systems researchers can benefit from reflecting upon their work in context and that the reflection provides a critical approach which complements the evaluation of research quality from philosophical principles. The view that the information systems research discipline is a historically-dependent social construction with evolving methodological principles is supported.

Keywords

Historical Context Information System Research Realist Stance Realist Tale Subjective Disclosure 
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

  • L. Harvey
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Information Systems, Curtin Business SchoolCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia

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