Journal Article

The Structuring of Early Computer Use in Life Insurance

JOANNE YATES

in Journal of Design History

Published on behalf of Design History Society

Volume 12, issue 1, pages 5-24
Published in print January 1999 | ISSN: 0952-4649
Published online January 1999 | e-ISSN: 1741-7279 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jdh/12.1.5
The Structuring of Early Computer Use in Life Insurance

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This paper uses Anthony Guldens' structuration theory as a theoretical lens for examining the early adoption and use of computers by life insurance firms in the 1950s. The theoretical lens helps us see how pre-computer punched-card tabulating technology and patterns of technology use in insurance operations structured or shaped the choice and use of computers by insurance firms in the early computer era, even in the presence of new technology advocates arguing for new models of technology and its use. This conservative influence of existing patterns is often underestimated, especially in the case of technologies popularly seen as new and innovative. While structuration leads us to expect reinforcement of existing structures or models most of the time, it also helps us to interpret the exceptions to these patterns that opened the way to new and innovative uses of computer technology in insurance.

Keywords: business history; business management; computers; history of technology; insurance; structuration theory

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: History of Art ; Art Forms ; Industrial and Commercial Art ; Art Styles

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