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Obsolescence in Information and Communication Technology: A Critical Discourse Analysis

Abstract : 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.
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Ines Junge, Maja Velden. Obsolescence in Information and Communication Technology: A Critical Discourse Analysis. 13th IFIP International Conference on Human Choice and Computers (HCC13), Sep 2018, Poznan, Poland. pp.188-201, ⟨10.1007/978-3-319-99605-9_14⟩. ⟨hal-02001942⟩

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