University of Oulu

Rajanen, M., Iivari, N., Empowered or disempowered? : an analysis of usability practitioners’ interventions in open source projects, Psychological perspectives on empowerment, 2019, p. 1—46

Empowered or disempowered? : an analysis of usability practitioners’ interventions in open source projects

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Author: Rajanen, Mikko1; Iivari, Netta1
Organizations: 1Interact Research Unit, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Nova Publishers, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-10-31


Worker and workplace empowerment have been enduring topics in psychological research. Recently, due to the advancements in technology and communication, new forms and types of work and organizing have emerged and challenged the traditional understandings of power and empowerment. Open source software (OSS) communities are one example of such new types of organization and collaboration. OSS communities have been celebrated as democratic, participatory and egalitarian settings where people voluntarily, freely and collaboratively develop software to serve their needs as well as the needs of others. In this paper we show that OSS communities indeed nurture empowerment in several senses. However, we also show that OSS communities pose several challenges to empowerment. As an example, we analyze numerous usability interventions in OSS development, in which usability practitioners have offered their expertise to OSS projects. We show that the usability practitioners have been empowered in certain cases and senses, but that they have also encountered numerous challenges as regards their empowerment. Moreover, we argue that critical theories on empowerment provide additional, valuable insights on empowerment in OSS development as well as elsewhere. We propose a comprehensive framework on empowerment, suitable for studies on empowerment in OSS communities as well as in other online communities and forms of distributed or online collaboration.

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ISBN: 978-1-53616-647-7
ISBN Print: 978-1-53616-646-0
Pages: 1 - 46
Host publication editor: Leroux, Jesper
Type of Publication: A3 Book chapter
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Copyright information: © Nova Publishers 2019.