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_____________________[PRO] narratives about new information technologies

Oppositional Codes in Students' Narratives about New Information Technologies

By Tony Obilade
Howard Journal of Communication, Volume 13, Number 3/July 01, 2002, pp. 191 - 206


In this ethnographic account, I focused on the interconnections of power, technology, and culture in a University that recently embarked on a program of full integration of electronic technology into its teaching-learning process. I explored how African American and European American students positioned themselves in relation to their University's preferred view of technology.

Two codes emerged from the narratives of participants. The dominant code was found to be business-oriented. This code evaluated technology in terms of the degree to which technology promoted administrative economic efficiency.

The cultural/communication code favored interpersonal interaction. It was critical of the negative effects that technology might produce due to differences in culture as well as the economic status of students. While there was some evidence that African American students used more of the cultural/communication code than the business code, there was no evidence that these codes marked cultural boundaries.

This study stresses the need for more research on how information technology is actually enhancing or hindering the democratization of organization discourse. It also stresses the need to ensure that organization members' understandings are sought through the use of methods that emphasize the communication practices of these members in actual talk situations.

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