A Concept ‘Vandalised': Seeing and Doing e-Planning in Practice

A Concept ‘Vandalised': Seeing and Doing e-Planning in Practice

Amin Y. Kamete (University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/IJEPR.2018010101
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Abstract

The article attempts to explain how there can be contestation and uncertainty over something that should be as ‘obvious' as e-planning. It tries to make sense of stakeholders' conflicting interpretations of e-planning in a real-life case. It uses the social shaping of technology perspective as an analytical framework and draws on semiotics and post-structural theories to provide a more nuanced explanation. Drawing on research in ‘Tektown', a Zimbabwean urban centre that had embarked on an e-planning project, the paper confirms the SST argument that contrary to technological determinism, the appropriation of technology does not emerge from the unfolding of a predetermined logic or a single determinant. But it also reveals that there are limitations in the explanatory power of SST when confronted with questions of contestation, uncertainty, and outcome. The paper argues that e-planning is fraught with conflicts and disagreements precisely because it is an empty signifier. It contends that the population of this vacuous concept can be explained in terms of power/knowledge.
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Technological Determinism Vs. The Social Shaping Of Technology

Technological determinism and the social shaping of technology (SST) are two contrasting perspectives that try to explain the nature of technology, its implementation and the direction of change. The latter grew as a critique of the former (Edge, 1988; Williams and Edge, 1996). SST is not a single perspective. Williams and Edge (1996, p. 866) indicate that “the domain of SST [is] a ‘broad church’” with different strands. This paper will not get into details about these various strands but will treat the ‘broad church’ as one domain.

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