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Title: The socio-technical production of GIS knowledges : the construction of bodies & machines at Scottish Natural Heritage
Author: Lilley, S. M.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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Abstract:
This thesis focuses on the situated use of Geographic Information system (GIS) in one government organisation - Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) - in order to explore the mutually productive and complex relationships between the social and the technical. The account is located within science and technology studies (STS) and feminist theories, both of which challenge notions of technical determinism and the neutrality of science and technology, suggesting instead that technology artefacts are products of complementary and competing discourses, and their limits. These theories, which are reviewed in Chapter One, are utilised to illustrate that GIS is a boundary object that is co-constructed as an object of knowledge and as a technological artefact through the messy nexus of social relations in which it is practised, whilst it concurrently actively contributes to the production of the social. In-depth interviews were conducted with staff who had recently been trained to use GIS as part of a major GIS implementation strategy in SNH. The methodology is described in Chapter Two. The interview transcripts were subjected to discourse analysis, in order to explore how the practice of GIS co-constructs fluid technologies, bodies and subject positions, which gain only the appearance of stability through their iterative citation in discursive practice. The empirical data are explored in three substantive chapters. Chapter Three examines the discourses which enable GIS, through the operation of power, to (re)produce particular geographies. Drawing on theories of the visual, it is argued that GIS, as a technology of realist representation, relies not merely on discourses of rationality, but also on its own inexplicability, which enables it to function as a site of spectacle and magic. Chapter Four focuses on the GIS user, exploring the practice of GIS as a site for the multiple production of bodies and subject positions. Haraway's figure of the cyborg is utilised to explore how users relate their bodies to the machine, and three possible subjectivities are proposed: the magician, the apprentice and the inept. The final substantive chapter explores how GIS emerges through the agency of both users and the machine itself, as they negotiate each other. It is argued that through these complex situated negotiations GIS is multiply embodied and constructed as a sentient other. The thesis concludes by examining the relevance of feminist geography to an understanding of these processes.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.653900  DOI: Not available
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