The modal nature of ICT: challenging the historical interpretation of the social understanding and appropriation of ICT.

  • Marcus Leaning
Keywords: Modality, ICT, Determinism, Substantivism, Instrumentalism, Historical interpretation of ICT, Sociology of ICT


This paper proposes a sociological model for understanding the social appropriation of information and communications technology (ICT). It is argued that the relationship between a media form and the society in which it is deployed is of key import in understanding how media is used. An account is given of the way in which the power of ICT to affect society has been understood. It is argued that positions within this debate are deeply tied to Western cultural beliefs and values. An alternate model of technology is proposed. In this model ICT is regarded as modal in operation, that is, it may operate differently in different situations.