Obsolescence in Information and Communication Technology: A Critical Discourse Analysis

  • Ines JungeEmail author
  • Maja van der Velden
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 537)


Responsible production and consumption is one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Fast Tech, resulting in premature obsolescence, is perceived as an important factor in unsustainable production and consumption patterns of information and communication technologies. In order to investigate societal perspectives on planned obsolescence and its root causes in Norway, we implemented a critical discourse analysis of the Norwegian written media. Technology discourses are often inspired by particular understandings of technology-society relations. We therefore mapped our findings on Andrew Feenberg’s four theories of technology. All articles presented a critical perspective towards the phenomenon of obsolescence. The majority of articles expressed an instrumentalist understanding of technology as the cause of planned obsolescence, while the rest communicated technological determinism as the main worldview underlying planned obsolescence. Both instrumentalist and determinist understandings of technology are based on the understanding that technology is intrinsically neutral and can be used for good or bad ends. We argue that this technology is neutral perspective can undermine the development of policy and design interventions that can contribute to sustainable technology. A thorough engagement with the politics of technology is needed to reach the goal of responsible production and consumption.


Norway Planned obsolescence Slow Tech Theories of technology 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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