Exploring the Archive: A Problematization Lens for Conducting Critical IS Research

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Critical IS research agendas are more important than ever if we wish to uncover the unanticipated and potentially harmful consequences of digital technologies. Developed from Michel Foucault’s late work, we introduce the problematization lens as a critical IS research strategy for exploring discursive commitments embedded in digital phenomena. The problematization lens is characterized by a genealogical approach to history and a limit attitude towards critique. Building on three analytical presumptions, we conceptualize the problematization lens and demonstrate how it can be operationalized through an illustrative case that analyzes the evolution of the Digital Productivity Assistant, MyAnalytics. The paper contributes to critical IS research by advancing the use of historical and philosophical analytical strategies, allowing researchers to explore the limits of their thinking as well as supporting the design of alternative visions for how our engagement with digital technologies may (also) be configured.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 42nd International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS)
EditorsAnitesh Barua, Ryan Wright, Atreyi Kankanhalli, Xitong Li, Shaila Miranda
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationAtlanta, GA
PublisherAssociation for Information Systems. AIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2021
Article number1976
ISBN (Electronic)9781733632591
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventThe 42nd International Conference on Information Systems: ICIS 2021: Building Sustainability and Resilience With is: A Call for Action - Austin, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 202115 Dec 2021
Conference number: 42


ConferenceThe 42nd International Conference on Information Systems: ICIS 2021
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address
SeriesProceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems


  • Problematizations
  • Genealogical research
  • Critical IS research
  • Speculative critique
  • Foucault
  • Philosophy in IS

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