MODALITIES of HUMANCHINE ACTOR NETWORKS:

MECHANISMS OF HYBRIDITY and emancipation in STRUCTURANTION THEORY

 

 

 

Chris Atkinson

 Laurence Brooks (Contact Author)

School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics

Brunel University

Uxbridge

Middlesex

UK

 

ABSTRACT

This paper focuses on the enfolding of human and non-human into the ‘humanchine’ hybrid (a combination of the human and the non-human/machine artefact) and its implications for information systems (IS) and their development. Within the hybrid framework of Structurantion theory (formed out of Structuration Theory and Actor Network Theory), humanchine networks are seen as being autopoietic social systems. These human and non-human actor hybrids can be seen as self-replicating social networks, with ‘structurated orders’ that persist over space and time. In this sense, IS are potentially autopoietic. Where a human actor is linked to a non-living technology that breaks down, the human provides the potential capacity for repairing it, either directly or by bringing (translating) other actors into their network.

As a result of their development and their being a partner in the humanchine duality, the technological equivalent of a human’s modalities become inscribed in the machines, i.e. the equivalent of a human’s significating stocks of knowledge, their legitimating rights and obligations and a dominatory facility to allocate non-human functionality or authorize human behaviours. Information systems (as a specific technology) exemplifies the question of whether they can be effective if they only work within prevailing mechanisms of hybridity, or whether they can be a part of practices associated with the emancipatory structure, that has been suggested to exist within all structurated orders.

 

KEYWORDS: Structurantion Theory, Structuration Theory, Actor Network Theory, modality, mechanisms of hybridity.