Technology Movements and the Politics of Free/Open Source Software

Year
2009
Volume
34
Issue
2
Pages
206-233
Abstract

Many technologies in our everyday lives are expressions of deliberate and protracted political struggles among interested groups. While some technologies are inherently political, other technologies become politicized through competition among different groups and organizations. How do seemingly apolitical technologies become politicized? In this article, the author examines the case of the "circuit riders," a progressive technology movement in the United States that promotes information technology use among nonprofit and grassroots organizations, to show how a particular technology is politicized through field-level interactions. Applying and contributing to actor-network theory, the author finds that translation takes place as an organizational process by which actors associate the ideals of the technology in question with their political ideals and then attempt to enroll other actors to accept the resultant associations. Successful association depends on both discursive and organizational practices.

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