If Truth Was a Woman: Leaky Infrastructures and the Gender Politics of Truth-telling

Daniela Agostinho, Nanna Bonde Thylstrup

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Abstract

The parrhesiastic spaces brought about by networked technologies have transformed what counts as truth-telling today. While the notion of truth has been thoroughly scrutinized within organization theory as well in studies on the ethics of whistle-blowing, less attention has been devoted to how new and emerging practices of truth-telling are related to socio-technological imaginaries – that is, the way social structures such as gender, sexuality and race affect and are affected by technological assemblages, especially infrastructures of information. This article argues that networked forms of truth-telling are enmeshed in technological imaginaries where gender and sexuality are symbolically and materially encoded. Prompted by recent cases of information disclosure, the article theorizes how technological infrastructures, gendered imaginaries and economic regimes come together to shape, complicate and ultimately define who counts as a truth-teller within parrhesiastic networked spaces. Drawing on feminist infrastructure and media theories, the article discusses normative distinctions between whistle-blowers, leakers and hackers to explore how their infrastructural imaginaries map onto contemporary communication networks, the gender politics of organizing information, and the conditions of what counts as truth. The article argues that attending to infrastructural imaginaries and their intersections with gendered imaginaries can not only help us to make sense of how the gendering of truth-telling operates in highly networked spaces, but can also aid us in devising improved conditions for truths to be told in organizational spaces. Ultimately, infrastructures matter because they fundamentally determine whose knowledge and labour are socially valued, and whose voices come to count in public life.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEphemera: Theory & politics in organization
Volume19
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)745-775
Number of pages31
ISSN1473-2866
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Published online: 25. October 2019

Keywords

  • Feminist theory
  • Gender
  • Infrastructures
  • Leaking
  • Truth-telling
  • Whistleblowing
  • Socio-technical imaginaries
  • Organization

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