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Abstract: The notion of affordance has recently been called upon, in the field of information systems, to understand the impact that ICT has on human and organisational activity. Originating with Gibson in the field of ecological psychology, and taken up by the HCI community, the idea of affordance is now being used in the IS field as a way to tackle the materiality of ICT and theorise the ICT artefact. This approach is seen by some as an antidote to an overweening social constructivism.
However, discourse in the IS field around affordance has been confined to highlighting the importance of the idea or classifying types of affordance. There has been little discussion of the nature of affordance, or of how to benefit from insights about affordance that have emerged in other fields. Both require a philosophical understanding of affordance as an ontological primitive that applies across all fields. However, which philosophical issues are important to affordance is not yet clear.
This paper reviews discourses around affordance, to identify a seven philosophical issues that are important to understanding affordance, especially in the IS field. The notion of affordance might offer a basis for discourse between the fields of information systems and HCI.
Abstract: The affordance of an ICT artefact or information system (IS) is the meaning it has to its users, which is located within it. After a period in which social constructionist perspectives dominated in the IS field, the notion of affordance is allowing a return to thinking about the IS as such, while retaining insights from those perspectives.
The idea of affordance originated in the field of ecological psychology, was taken up by the HCI community, and has recently attracted interest in the IS field, as a way to tackle the materiality of ICT. However, the discourse in the IS field around affordance has been limited, with too little discussion of the nature of affordance from an IS perspective, nor of how to benefit from insights about affordance that have emerged in the other fields. These require a philosophical understanding of affordance.
By reference to seven philosophical issues that are important in understanding affordance, this paper explores how the philosophy of Dooyeweerd can provide an integrative account of the nature of affordance across the fields. It then demonstrates practically how this account may be used. Contributions are possible in philosophy, theory of affordance, affordance research, and in practical evaluation and design.
Abstract: The notion of affordance has recently been called upon to account for the impact of the shape of ICT on human and organisational activity. It originated with Gibson in the field of ecological psychology and there it has aroused considerable debate about its nature and effectiveness as a conceptual device. In proportion, much less debate about the nature of affordance has taken place in the field of information systems. Instead, researchers have adopted the notion and suggested classifications of affordances, which do not always correspond with each other. On what basis may we relate these to each other, and translate the insights gained in ecological psychology to other fields? This article reviews the notion of affordance in the fields of ecological psychology, of artefacts (HCI) and IS, and discovers confusion in all fields. Usually, affordance is seen as activity or relationship, but most discussions of affordance indicate that meaningfulness is central.
This article explores the implications of treating affordance as meaningfulness, usually as a pair of ways of being meaningful. Three origins of meaningfulness are discussed: subjective, intersubjective (socially constructed) and meaningfulness as an ocean in which we exist and function, and which itself enables that existing and functioning. Possible contributions to IS theory and practice are discussed. A philosophical foundation on which to develop the idea of affordance as meaningfulness is briefly outlined.
Abstract: Much IS research brings a priori theoretical constructs to its domain of study, and this can generate distorted outcomes. To avoid this danger, IS research should be 'lifeworld-oriented'. Characteristics of the lifeworld are drawn from philosophy and applied to examples of IS research. Surprisingly, both positivist and critical research can be both theorizing and lifeworld-oriented, though in different ways. A proposal is then made for 'lifeworld-oriented IS research', which, by taking into account the lifeworlds of both researcher and researched, can make IS research richer and more relevant.
Please send me papers you wish to have here, or rather hyperlink urls to papers already on the WWW. Thanks.
The copyright of each of the papers belongs to the author or journal (used with permission), as indicated on the paper itself.
This page Copyright (c) 2002 Andrew Basden, as part of The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.
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Created: 22 February 2002. Last updated: 26 April 2002 cpts2002, jit. 20 November 2002 Clouser's 3W; page reformatted. 1 March 2003 Choi's dissertation brought into here, .nav. 19 June 2008 ufbg paper. 30 January 2009 link to AOLR. 19 December 2012 IJMAP aspects paper and Ope's dissertation. 18 March 2020 aspects-iconf20.pdf. 12 June 2020 ecrm20-fields. 3 April 2021 affordance and lifeworld papers.