Exploring human agency and digital systems: services, personalisation and participation

Wessels, B. (2013) Exploring human agency and digital systems: services, personalisation and participation. Information, Communication and Society, 16(10), pp. 1533-1552. (doi:10.1080/1369118X.2012.715666)

Full text not currently available from Enlighten.


The paper explores the relationship between human agency and digital services. The capacity of digital services to create knowledge from a range of sources has led some commentators to argue that digital services are a factor in redefining human agency because these services link, combine, and compute data to create new knowledge [Lyotard, J. (1984) The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Manchester University Press, Manchester; Lash, S. (1999) Another Modernity, A Different Rationality, Blackwell, Oxford]. This, they argue, is resulting in non-human knowledge systems rather than knowledge created by humans within cultural frameworks. The paper critically engages with these debates to explore the ways in which digital services are made meaningful through the way individuals interpret and use them. It focuses on three contexts in which agency and digital services interact to provide insights into the framework and characteristics of agency in these settings. The three areas that are addressed are: virtual city modelling, digital or electronic-assisted living technology, and Second Life. The conclusion points out that agency is influential in these services in that it is situated in particular spaces and contexts, reflects on the past, assesses the present, and looks to the future. The agency of individuals is important in generating knowledge in digital services, and is part of a personalized form of participation in consumer culture.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wessels, Professor Bridgette
Authors: Wessels, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Information, Communication and Society
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1468-4462
Published Online:14 August 2012

University Staff: Request a correction | Enlighten Editors: Update this record