Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research
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Handbook of Critical Information Systems Research

Theory and Application

Edited by Debra Howcroft and Eileen M. Trauth

This important Handbook provides a unique overview of information systems (IS) research by focusing on the increasing interest in critical-related issues.
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Chapter 8: Flexibility, Freedom and Women’s Emancipation: A Marxist Critique of At-Home Telework

Anita Greenhill and Melanie Wilson


1 Anita Greenhill and Melanie Wilson Introduction: Marxism and the critical IS agenda The main aim of this chapter is to describe how Marxist theory can assist in furthering the critical and gender studies projects in information systems (IS) research. This is to be achieved by applying established theoretical developments in Marxist approaches concerning technology and the labour process, on the one hand, and women’s oppression, on the other. A useful illustration – because of its contemporary and contextual applicability to the analysis – is at-home telework. Our critical intention is to challenge assumptions associated with technological innovations such as telework. The critique is intended for use by agencies responsible for workers’ welfare (such as trades unions), to contribute to preventing deterioration in working conditions, and/or hopefully to ameliorate them.2 However, as the reader will discover, our agenda for emancipation in IS research is set against a broader landscape of radical change on a societal level. Drawing on earlier Marxist writings, we take the opportunity to outline what we believe extensive emancipation entails. An emancipatory project in IS is nothing new (Orlikowski and Baroudi 1991). It has been a common theme among critical writers who have maintained a focus on issues of equality and inequality for some time (Hirschheim and Klein 1989; Ngwenyama 1991; Mingers 2000; CecezKecmanovic 2001; Maru and Woodford 2001).3 In generating a critical agenda it is essential to be clear about disputed areas, at least to enable us to draw up common areas of agreement (and struggle). Gender...

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