“How to Create Things with Words” Symbolic Power and MIS in the Health Care Sector

  • Kåre Lines
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2739)


This paper is concerned with institutional change and the role of IT in public reforms. Specifically, we analyze a historical case concerning the development of a MIS in a local health-care organization in Norway. We use the concept “symbolic power” constructed by Bourdieu to investigate the problem of legitimization during the process of developing the MIS. We illustrate how the use of symbolic power within different logics and conflict of interest has influenced the MIS development. Despite this, we also observe a process which to a great extent has been harmonious. We argue that it is because these logics, interests and values have gained the status of symbolic capital; i.e., are recognized as legitimate competencies and knowledge, that the political dimensions are unrecognized. Our conclusion is that MIS development faces a serious challenge in making it legitimate to define issues of IT as political.


Objectify State Cultural Capital Political Dimension Symbolic Capital Symbolic Power 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bellany, C., Taylor, J.: Governing in the Information Age. Open University Press, Buckingham (1998)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bourdieu, P.: Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1977)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bourdieu, P.: In other words – essays towards a reflexive sociology. Polity Press, Cambridge (1990)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bourdieu, P.: An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. University of Chicago, Polity Press (1992)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bourdieu, P.: Forms of Capital. In: Richardson, J. (ed.) Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Greenwood Press, New York (1986)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Currie, W.L., Galliers, B.: Rethinking Management Information Systems. Oxford University Press, Oxford (1999)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Giddens, A.: Agency, Institution, and Time-Space AnalysisInstitution. In: Advances in Social Theory and Methodology, pp. 161–174. London and Henley, Boston (1981)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Heeks, R.: Explaining Success and Failure of e-Government. In: Proceedings: European Conference on e-Government Trinity College Dublin (2001)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Latour, B.: Pandora’s Hope. Harvard University Press, Cambridge (1999)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Robey, D., Markus, M.L.: Rituals in Information System Design. MIS Quarterly (1984)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kåre Lines
    • 1
  1. 1.Nord Trøndelag University CollegeLevangerNorway

Personalised recommendations