A Bridge too Far? Critical Remarks on the Concept of “Infrastructure” in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Information Systems

Charlotte P. Lee, Kjeld Schmidt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


The study of computing infrastructures has grown significantly due to the rapid proliferation and ubiquity of large-scale IT-based installations. At the same time, recognition has also grown of the usefulness of such studies as a means for understanding computing infrastructures as material complements of practical action. Subsequently the concept of “infrastructure” (or “information infrastructures,” “cyberinfrastructures,” and “infrastructuring”) has gained increasing importance in the area of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) as well as in neighboring areas such as Information Systems research (IS) and Science and Technology Studies (STS). However, as such studies have unfolded, the very concept of “infrastructure” is being applied in different discourses, for different purposes, in myriad different senses. Consequently, the concept of “infrastructure” has become increasingly muddled and needs clarification. The chapter presents a critical investigation of the vicissitudes of the concept of “infrastructure” over the last 35 years.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocio-informatics : A Practice-based Perspective on the Design and Use of IT Artifacts
EditorsVolker Wulf, Volkmar Pipek, David Randall, Markus Rohde, Kjeld Schmidt, Gunnar Stevens
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date2018
ISBN (Print)9780198733249
ISBN (Electronic)9780191047862, 9780191047879
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Infrastructure
  • Information infrastructure
  • Cyberinfrastructure
  • Infrastructuring
  • Computer-supported cooperative work
  • CSCW
  • Information systems research
  • IS
  • Science and technology studies
  • STS
  • Computing technology

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