Brian P. Bloomfield's research while affiliated with Lancaster University and other places

Publications (48)

Article
Full-text available
This article seeks to situate pharmacological cognitive enhancement as part of a broader relationship between cultural understandings of the body-brain and the political economy. It is the body of the worker that forms the intersection of this relationship and through which it comes to be enacted and experienced. In this article, we investigate the...
Article
The extraction of unconventional hydrocarbons, particularly through hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’), has generated both support and opposition in many countries around the globe. Along with arguments about economic benefits, decarbonisation, transition fuels and groundwater contamination, etc., the rapid expansion of this industry presents a pres...
Article
War, the organized destruction of human beings, of human lifeworlds and modes of livelihood, has long been regarded as outside the usual preoccupations of organization studies. And yet, as the various on-going “asymmetric wars” increasingly become the taken for granted background noise of contemporary life, this aloofness becomes difficult to maint...
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Full-text available
This article focuses on how the categories of ‘normal’ and ‘extreme’ in the context of work might be renegotiated through the development of human enhancement technologies which aim to enable the human body to be pushed beyond its biological limits. The ethical dimensions of human enhancement technologies have been widely considered, but there has...
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The article argues that the organization of destruction requires the same level of attention that organization studies have typically accorded to the organization of production. Taking as its starting point recent debates in the field concerning the embodied character of organizational ethics, the present paper sets out to explore what we might cal...
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Purpose – The pupose of this paper is twofold. First, to consider the cultural reception of recent developments in genetic technology and human reproduction, particularly in relation to the prospect of human cloning and the advent of the “designer human”; and second, to explore the ways in which public discussion of these developments presuppose an...
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This article considers the protests through which a group of New Zealand women—MAdGE (Mothers Against Genetic Engineering in Food and the Environment)—enacted a campaign against genetic modification in food. Referring to the predominant visual/symbolic makeup of its efforts to communicate an alternative perspective on the research involved, the art...
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This paper examines a controversial research programme aimed at the production of transgenic cows in New Zealand. It emphasizes the contested representation of the research, in its promotion, in its governance, and in the opposition sparked amongst environmentallanti-genetic modification groups and within the Māori community. The paper contends tha...
Article
Borrowed from ecological psychology, the concept of affordances is often said to offer the social study of technology a means of re-framing the question of what is, and what is not, ‘social’ about technological artefacts. The concept, many argue, enables us to chart a safe course between the perils of technological determinism and social constructi...
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This paper considers the UK Government's major modernization programme for local government and its aim to use technology to bring about a radical transformation in the delivery of public services by joining up hitherto separate service departments and focusing the organization of services around the citizen. Drawing upon empirical fieldwork in the...
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This paper explores the relationship between technology and problems of social order/disorder in the context of discussions of surveillance and ‘virtuality’. The emphasis is on understanding the connections between technology and social relations in areas where issues of social order/disorder are a prominent feature of concern and where one can ide...
Article
This article investigates the ways in which the reporting of technological developments in artificial intelligence (AI) can serve as occasions in which Occidental modernity's cultural antinomies are played out. It takes as its reference point the two chess tournaments (in 1996 and 1997) between the then world champion Gary Kasparov and the IBM dedi...
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The processes through which boundaries are made and unmade - conceptually, socially, and materially - have been of enduring interest to a wide range of social scientific disciplines including sociology, anthropology, geography, science studies, etc. The subject matter of this paper - the Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository in Nye cou...
Article
For many, the very idea of an artificialintelligence has always been ethicallytroublesome. The putative ability of machinesto mimic human intelligence appears to callinto question the stability of taken forgranted boundaries between subject/object,identity/similarity, free will/determinism,reality/simulation, etc. The artificiallyintelligent object...
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In the last twenty years or so the UK National Health Service (NHS) has witnessed tremendous changes in the provision of mental health services. As the vast Victorian asylums have progressively been run down and closed attention has switched to the planning and delivery of services based on the idea of ‘care in the community’. This paper explores s...
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This article focuses on science fiction and actor network theory as ways of writing displacement which are relevant to organization studies. Recent work within organizational theory and related (sub)disciplines has suggested that the articulation of organization as a privileged site of presence is made possible by that which is Othered and excluded...
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This paper examines how particular “inscription devices” institute versions of the objects that they purport to render visible. It refers to a group of representational practices centred on data modelling and information requirements analysis to illustrate the argument, and sets the issue in the context of the practice of representation constitutiv...
Chapter
Empowerment has become a popular and alluring concept associated with ideas of emancipation, participation, and the delegation of decision making. It is seen as a way of enabling individuals, organizations, or even nations to exert a greater degree of control over their destinies. In addition, information technology (IT) is seen as an enabling medi...
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In this Comment, we elaborate upon Mulkay's discussion of the rhetorics of hope and fear in the UK debate over research on human embryos, by focusing on the narrative strategies and cultural presuppositions that allow certain technological developments to be (re)presented as 'hopeful' or 'fearsome'. We argue that boundary talk and its associated vo...
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This article considers the implications of Latour's notions of durability and delegation for theorizing the relationship between technology and organization. Two central themes are the heterogeneous character of the fabric of organizational life which interweaves both humans and non-humans (including machines and inscriptions); and the question of...
Article
This paper explores the role of management consultants in the development of information technology (IT) in organizations. Contending that the process of IT systems development is characterized by the exercise of power, the central theme of the argument concerns the indissoluble nature of the technical and socio-political skills inherent in IT cons...
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This paper examines the reports produced by management consultants as exercises in textual reality construction. Concentrating on a particular variant of this genre - namely, the information technology (IT) strategy report - its focus is on the ways in which `reality' and the forms of knowledge appropriate to it are constituted in the course of cer...
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Discusses the problematic nature of the boundary between the “technical” and the “social” and its consequences in respect of understanding the relationship between technological and organizational change. Illustrates the argument using material drawn from research on the implementation of a hospital information system and an R&D project to develop...
Book
In this paper, we consider the themes of 'risk' and 'vulnerability' with reference both to current debates in social science concerning information technology (IT), and to our own research on IT development and use within the UK National Health Service (NHS). In connection with the latter, we focus in particular on a recent central government initi...
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This paper aims to shed light on the exercise of power during the development and implementation of organisational information systems. Considering the use of Information Technology (IT) to help solve organisational problems, we employ the concept of the ‘sociology of translation’ to theorise the process by which the organisational problem is const...
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The aim of this paper is to explore some of the ways in which we think about the development of information systems by drawing upon arguments articulated within the philosophy of science and the sociology of technology. It argues that many of these approaches operate on the basis of a reified and sociologically restricted view of technology. Drawin...
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This article addresses the conceptualization of power in relation to the use of computers in organizations. Commonly held views that the application of computer based information systems leads to either a centralization or a decentralization of power and control, or that computers merely reinforce the power of dominant actors, are criticized, and a...
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This paper documents the process of integrating and institutionalizing academic service-learning into university, department, and program curriculum. First, we briefly define academic service-learning. Second, we discuss how academic service-learning is being institutionalized into our university community. Third, we discuss how we have integrated...
Article
Management consultants have been called 'charlatans' who only tell you what you already know. But this pessimistic view obscures several inherent paradoxes which managers should be aware of when they use outside experts. Ardha Best and Brian Bloomfield examine the role of consultants in the field of information technology.
Article
This paper examines some fundamental issues pertaining to the use of, as well as to the distinctive characteristics of, information technology in relation to the development of information systems within the UK National Health Service (NHS). The paper refers to the current Resource Management Initiative in the NHS, which involves the fabrication of...
Article
This paper explores the connection between language and our thought and beliefs about computers. In particular it considers how certain features of language - such as verbal habits, or the traces in language due to social interests and power - help to shape particular reports and interpretations of the behaviour of computer programs and thereby sus...
Article
After the setbacks suffered in the 1970s as a result of the ‘Lighthill Report’ (Lighthill, 1973), the science of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has undergone a dramatic revival of fortunes in the 1980s. But despite the obvious enormity and complexity of the problems tackled by AI, it still remains rather parochial in relation to the import of alterna...
Article
Since the inception of general compulsory education, learning has largely taken place in the social setting of the classroom. This constitutes a social experience which helps to shape a child's view of the world; for good or bad, the social nature of the classroom is an inescapable element in this pattern of learning. One fails or succeeds before t...
Article
In their paper “Some Comments on Rule Induction” Bratko and Michie address only three of the seven concerns that I put forward in my original article. Significantly, they have chosen to ignore the deeper and more important philosophical issues which I raised, while seeking to deflect my concerns by proclaiming their own privileged position of “bein...
Article
This paper examines the claim that machine induction can alleviate the current knowledge engineering bottleneck in expert system construction. It presents a case study of the rule induction software tool known as Expert-Ease and proposes a set of criteria which might guide the selection of appropriate domains.
Article
This paper applies Bloor's extension of Douglas's grid/group theory to a novel case-namely, a debate which took place concerning the ‘retrodiction’ or ‘backcasting’ of system dynamics global simulation models. The paper has two aims: first, in terms of understanding this debate, it seeks to link the different treatments of anomalies within it both...
Article
This paper examines the claim that machine induction can alleviate the current knowledge engineering bottleneck in expert system construction. It presents a case study of the rule induction software tool known as Expert-Ease and proposes a set of criteria which might guide the selection of appropriate domains.
Article
The virulent debates that have dogged research on, and the diffusion of, a wide range of technologies indicate a growing loss of confidence in what we might call, the techno-scientific endeavour to reshape the world. Utopian images of a world rendered ever more amenable to human desires are now closely shadowed by just as compelling dystopian visio...

Citations

... Such a view is central also to the third approach, inspired by the Foucauldian perspective on IS (e.g., Bloomfield et al., 1997;Silva & Backhouse, 2003;Willcocks, 2004;Avgerou & McGrath, 2005;Doolin, 2004;McGrath, 2006;Avgerou & McGrath, 2007). This approach blends rationality and power through the formation of competing "regimes of truth" (Foucault, 1979) and acknowledges the authoritative character of much technical-rational framing about IS. ...
... Nowadays, satellite monitoring is increasingly used along with the traditional ground-based methods of observing the state of landscapes (Bloomfield, Doolin 2017;Mjachina et al. 2018). The advantages of remote monitoring of land cover based on satellite images are the scale of research and the possibility of obtaining a variety of operational or archival information about the state of natural components. ...
... The normalization of violence, of the sight of blood, of death, results in extremely effective desensitization. Epistemologically speaking, although hard to accept, we must face the fact that we are largely the authors of a carefully calculated and highly efficient organization of death and destruction (Banerjee, 2008;Bloomfield, Burrell and Vurdubakis, 2017) morphed into spectacle, resulting in daily empirical manifestations fueling our shared collective imaginary, instantly propagated by media and simultaneously anesthetizing us, numbing us, to the point that we are no longer neither surprised, nor even appalled (Pérezts, 2021). Valencia (2010) uses the cinematographic genre term 'gore' to qualify the shape capitalism is taking under these premises, visibilizing and normalizing mutilation and violence in the bloodiest way possible, with our increasing desensitization calling for an ever more intense representation of violence, in order to maintain its 'shock value'. ...
... We are living in a period in which organisations particularly in industrialised nations are experiencing a huge growth in the use of IS/IT [6] [25]. Information systems have no independent existence of their own unless taken in the context of an organisation and its business processes [37]. ...
... In a health information system the realities of 'psychiatrist', 'patient' and 'diagnostic' are being performed in a particular way (Bloomfield & McLean, 1996). In the IS of a tertiary institution, one could trace how the realities of the 'researcher' and of the 'university' are being performed (Scott & Wagner, 2003). ...
... Here we define the team relationship that is formed and/or sustained through the intermediation of these Web 2.0 technologies as the technologized team relationship. The technology in this case is not only a mediator in the relationship but an intermediator (Bloomfield & Vurdubakis, 2000). As a mediator, it is passive and just a medium or a tool for the relationship. ...
... Watson (1994) clarifies this situation well with the concept of double control, arguing that the fashions that consultants provide help managers handle their personal identities, careers and understandings and, at the same time, contributing to the overall control of the organization. The social psychological function of the consultant thus touches upon a number of human needs, such as sensemaking and control (Watson, 1994), but also the discursive construction of identities (Clark and Salaman, 1998), storytelling (Clark and Greatbatch, 2002) and drama (Bloomfield and Vurdubakis, 2002). ...
... Most IS literature on power in IS implementation is focused on the work of social and political theorists, in particular, Clegg (Silva 2007;Silva and Backhouse 2003;Smith et al. 2010), Giddens (Brooks 1997;Chu and Smithson 2007;Hussain and Cornelius 2009), Foucault (Doolin 2004;Knights and Vurdudakis 1994), Lukes (Howcroft and Light 2006;Markus and Bjorn-Andersen 1987) and Latour (Bloomfield et al. 1997). The work of these theorists is argued to be abstract and fails to deliver a clear and useful picture regarding the source of power and tactical applications of power in given situations (Ye et al. 2014), and as such, the analyses based on these works offer little practical guidance regarding the effective management of power in IS implementation. ...
... Such efforts to craft a sense of individual responsibility without apparent individual blame does not mean that blame and guilt play no part in the stress management practices interrogated in this literature. While the increasing pressure on employees to not only do their job with passion and commitment but manage job-related stress may add stress rather than relieve stress (Pedersen, 2008), a number of contributions have emphasised that the failure to manage stress then becomes an individual failure to self-manage and 'to deploy the most appropriate self-management technologies' (Pedersen, 2008, p. 173; see also Corbett, 2013;Maravelias et al., 2013;Bloomfield & Dale, 2015). However, it also becomes a failure at job performance since, 'to suffer from stress is, in effect, to admit one's inability to contribute adequately to the organization' (Hepburn & Brown, 2001, p. 694). ...
... In fact, the 'Manichean sciences' (p. 232) of operations research, cybernetics and game theory -quite influential in military development as in organizational thought, as technological mediation was often 'birthed through the reproductive apparatuses of war' (Haraway, 2004a, p. 3; see also Bloomfield & Vurdubakis, 2015) -are based on the inscrutability of the other, and base their ideas and practices of organization and control on adapting to, rather than "understanding", black boxes. So, the sheer inscrutability, unreadability and organizational potential of contemporary software-based organizing -its secret sauce safely locked awayprovokes the diagnosis of a 'black box society' (Pasquale, 2015). ...