'If Truth Was a Woman': Leaky Infrastructures and the Gender Politics of Truth-Telling

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Daniela Agostinho, Nanna Thylstrup

The new parrhesiastic spaces brought about by networked technologies have transformed what counts as truth-telling today. While the notion of truth has been thoroughly scrutinized within organization theory, as well in studies on the ethics of whistleblowing, less attention has been devoted to how new and emerging practices of truth-telling are related to socio-technological imaginaries, that is, the way social structures, such as gender, sexuality and race, affect and are affected by technological assemblages, in particular infrastructures of information. This article argues that networked forms of truth-telling are enmeshed with technological imaginaries where gender is both symbolically and materially encoded. Prompted by recent cases of information disclosure, this article theorizes how technological, social and political infrastructures come together to fundamentally shape, complicate and ultimately define who counts as a truth-teller within emerging parrhesiastic networked spaces. Drawing on feminist infrastructure and media studies, the article discusses normative distinctions between whistleblowers, leakers, and hackers, to explore how their infrastructural imaginaries map onto contemporary communication networks, the gender politics of organizing information, and the conditions of what counts, and doesn’t, as truth. The article argues that attending to infrastructural imaginaries, and how they intersect with gendered imaginaries, can help us make sense of how the gendering of truth-telling operates in highly networked spaces. Ultimately, attuning to these gendered imaginaries of truth-telling can direct our attention to dominant and unnoticed social practices at play within organizations, and thus advance the project of meaningful social and organizational change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEphemera: Theory & politics in organization
Volume19
Issue number4
ISSN1473-2866
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Sep 2019

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - truth-telling, whistleblowing, hacking, information leaks, gender, infrastructures, Digital media, feminist media studies

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