Original Research

The politics of performative ontology in information systems

Dirk Postma
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 9, No 2 | a204 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v9i2.204 | © 2013 Dirk Postma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2016 | Published: 31 December 2013

About the author(s)

Dirk Postma, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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This article argues that information systems (ISs) and information system ontologies (ISOs) are powerful devices that perform reality in profound ways. The development and use of ISOs are forms of ontological politics through which interests are promoted, identities established and resources distributed. ISOs are ideological in so far as their political nature is not recognised while serving partial interests. This happens when ISOs are seen as merely technical, inevitable and natural. A democratic politics of ISs and ISOs is needed in order to make public these political actions. This article aims to create a critical awareness of the ways in which technologies perform reality an d argues that the political agenda must be activated through the opening up of terrains of dissensus and contestation within the technical performances of reality. It provides examples of such ontological politics of technology.

Keywords: Information system ontologies, performativity, technology, politics, contestation


Information system ontologies; performativity; technology; politics; contestation


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