Introna, L and Whittaker, L (2005) Power, cash and convenience: the political space of the ATM. Working Paper. The Department of Organisation, Work and Technology, Lancaster University.
The automatic teller machine (ATM) is currently, and for the foreseeable future, the dominant mode of access to cash for those living in the UK- as such it is a technology central to the lives of most economically active individuals. In this paper we present the ATM as a political space where a multiplicity of relationships - primarily but not exclusively between the customer and the bank - become configured in ways that serve some interests and not others. The paper draws on the work of Winner, Harraway and Latour in discussing the translation of ATMs as it occurs in the UK, with further reference to South Africa and the USA. In order to make some of the politics of the ATM more visible, we illustrate the political struggles through four interconnected narratives: (a) the talking ATM, (b) the insecure ATM, (c) the charging ATM and (d) the cashless ATM. In each of these descriptive accounts we attempt to show how the ATM becomes (or is) a space that is configured and reconfigured through a multiplicity of political translations resulting in a multiplicity of cybernetic ATM networks. Finally, we briefly discuss how these narratives interrelate to form the political space of the ATM.
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