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Journal Article

We do not Talk about this: Problematical Silences in e‑Government  pp259-270

Johanna Sefyrin, Christina Mortberg

© Jan 2009 Volume 7 Issue 3, Editor: Frank Bannister, pp209 - 294

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Abstract

The Swedish public sector is currently in a process of transformation, often referred to as e‑ Government. In this paper stories are told of problematic silences in an e‑Government implementation project in a Swedish government agency. e‑Government is discussed as something that is articulated differently by a range of actors in various locations. This enables articulations of multiple e‑Government and the multiple articulations can also be a means to contest dominant and possibly problematic articulations of e‑Government. The dominant discourse of e‑Government is the rationalisation of the public sector as a means of saving public resources. The improvement of quality and availability of public services, and to improve democratic processes are central in the dominant discourse. In this discourse there is a silence about the dismissal of employees in the public sector. There is neither talk about how the public sector is an important labour market for women nor how the rationalisation will affect the employees. Employees' knowledges are not considered as being a resource for strategic IT‑planning, and thus they are not invited to participate in the further design of IT‑systems. The purpose of the paper is to explore the participation of the administrative officers in an e‑Government implementation project, and the meanings of e‑Government articulated in the project. Ethnographic methods were used in the collection of empirical material, and central ideas in participatory design and feminist technoscience were used in the analysis. The main argument is that the administrative officers participated in an ambiguous way. They were central actors but were at the same time marginalised within the organisation. The ambiguity regarding how they participated is related to different and more inclusive articulations of e‑ Government in the project. The paper is concluded with a discussion concerning how alternative articulations of e‑Government can offer alternatives to the dominant e‑Government discourse.

 

Keywords: e-Government, public sector employees, silences, feminist technoscience, participatory design

 

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