Inverse Instrumentality: How Technologies Objectify Patients and Players

Hamid Ekbia Bonnie A. Nardi

in Materiality and Organizing

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199664054
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745423 | DOI:
Inverse Instrumentality: How Technologies Objectify Patients and Players

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A growing trend in the development of large-scale technological systems seeks to strategically insert human beings into these systems in order to allow them to function in intended ways. These “technologies of objectification” enable situations where individuals are turned into either fragmented or totalized subjects. The chapter identifies certain types of health technologies and multiplayer online games as systems that objectify patients and players, turning them into docile or actively engaged subjects, respectively. Through the analysis of specific examples of each technology, the chapter demonstrates how software systems regulate human behavior in an expectant manner, drawing them in or pushing them away from certain kinds of activities. The chapter discusses the implications of this analysis for the question of materiality, and argue for a view that understands (de)materialization as a process rather than a settled dichotomy.

Keywords: objectification; materialization; mediation; games; health

Chapter.  8170 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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