The question of materiality: Mattering in the network society

Ella Hafermalz, Kai Riemer

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

While materiality is an important concept in IS research, there is little consensus as to how "materiality" ought to be understood. We find that the term is typically used, often implicitly, to mean "physicality" or the corporeal existence of objects. Grounded in a widely held "folk ontology" characteristic of modern Western thinking this view makes intuitive sense to us. It breaks down however when we consider typical entities of concern to IS researchers, such as software or information, or emerging phenomena in the network society, such as online social networks or virtual work. In response to unhelpful distinctions emerging from this view, such as between the "virtual" and "real" world, we put forward a relational view grounded in the emerging sociomateriality research orientation. This alternative position sees materiality not as a pre-given quality of entities but rather as an ongoing achievement of "mattering" situated in practice. We demonstrate with examples how this view enables IS researchers to grasp in more productive ways how materiality is achieved in an increasingly networked society.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication23rd European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2015
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems
Volume2015-May
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes
Event23rd European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2015 - Munster, Germany
Duration: 26 May 201529 May 2015

Conference

Conference23rd European Conference on Information Systems, ECIS 2015
CountryGermany
CityMunster
Period26/05/1529/05/15

Keywords

  • Materiality
  • Mattering
  • Network Society
  • Practice
  • Relational Ontology
  • Sociomateriality

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