Using social theory in information systems research: a reflexive account

G Shoib, J Nandhakumar, M Jones

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Much recent work in the tradition of interpretive Information Systems research has used social theories such as Giddens' (1984) Structuration Theory or Callon and Latour's (1981) Actor Network Theory. However, most work either focuses on theoretical foundational concerns surrounding conceptualisations within either theory or provides empirical case descriptions that were constructed and/or analysed using either theory. Little attention has been paid to the question of how to use either theory in practice, i.e. how to use the theoretical conceptualisations to guide the research process and to generate accounts and substantive theory. This is partly due to the ambivalence of the theories themselves regarding this question but also because researchers avoid the whole question. In this paper we return to the core concepts of the two theories as well as a few writings of our fellow management researchers, in particular researchers on Information Systems, in search of implementation guidance. We argue that social theory is a useful meta-theory that can guide a research endeavour to appropriate research methods and provide a solid foundation of assumptions regarding human action for the generated substantive theories. Based on the empirical work comprising of two in-depth case studies, we offer a reflexive account of our own experiences in operationalising the theories and we detail the role of social theory in shaping the stance, guiding the choice of method, analysing qualitative data and generating substantive theory. In so doing we synthesize a set of implementation guidelines for other researchers and discuss the role of social theory throughout the research process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQuality and Impact of Qualitative Research: QualIT 2006, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Qualitative Research in IT and IT in Qualitative Research
PublisherInstitute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems
Pages129-147
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)1920952918
Publication statusPublished - 2006
Event3rd International Conference on Qualitative Research in IT and IT in Qualitative Research: Quality and Impact of Qualitative Research, QualIT 2006 - Brisbane , Australia
Duration: 27 Nov 200629 Nov 2006

Conference

Conference3rd International Conference on Qualitative Research in IT and IT in Qualitative Research: Quality and Impact of Qualitative Research, QualIT 2006
CountryAustralia
CityBrisbane
Period27/11/0629/11/06

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Shoib, G., Nandhakumar, J., & Jones, M. (2006). Using social theory in information systems research: a reflexive account. In Quality and Impact of Qualitative Research: QualIT 2006, Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Qualitative Research in IT and IT in Qualitative Research (pp. 129-147). Institute for Integrated and Intelligent Systems .