Disabled people and digitalization:Disruptive documents in distributing digital devices

Knights, David and Latham, Yvonne (2020) Disabled people and digitalization:Disruptive documents in distributing digital devices. Organization Studies, 41 (6). pp. 855-872. ISSN 0170-8406

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This article examines the selection process in a pilot project aimed at distributing computers to disabled people to allow for digitalization. Particular attention is paid to the complexities generated by an allocation assessment form, designed to help these people improve their social interactions through electronic media. There is a paucity of discussions on forms in the organization studies literature but, when studied, an over-reliance on semantics such that their enactment in embodied sociomaterial performances is easily glossed over. Our problematic revolves around how forms and their surrounding sociomaterial performances constitute, but are also transformed by, subjects, objects and organizational relations. The contribution of this article is, therefore, to address the embodied enactments and sociomaterial practices that are embedded within these allocation processes. So, for example, assessors in the project deviated from a strict interpretation of the questions on the form and sometimes ignored clients’ responses so as to prevent formal allocations of computers from being seen as illegitimate, and potentially disruptive to the organization’s objectives of distributing digital devices. This enabled us to focus on the sociomaterial and embodied relations that are enacted within the selection process and how these place limits on, but also possibilities for, those allocating and those seeking to be allocated computers. The case study shows how distributing computers to disabled people is a complex sociomaterial process that is conditioned by the embodied performances and textual devices deployed. At the same time, the process was informed by humanistic and normalizing assumptions about sociability that are inscribed on the assessment form as criteria for allocating the computers. One implication, we found, was a tendency to reinforce the marginalization of disabled people.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Organization Studies
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Organization Studies, ? (?), 2019, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2019 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Organization Studies page: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/OSS/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/
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25 Jul 2019 14:05
Last Modified:
05 Nov 2023 01:11