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Katharina Braunsmann, Korbinian Gall & Falk Justus Rahn: Discourse Strategies of Implementing Algorithmic Decision Support Systems: The Case of the Austrian Employment Service. [Abstract]

In the process of digitalisation, social administrations are increasingly turning to algorithmic decision support systems. In this particularly controversial field of application of algorithms, we observe efforts to gain public legitimacy for using such systems. In particular, we examine the implementation of the “AMS algorithm” in the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS). Using the Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD), we identify three strategies that shape the development of the AMS discourse: (1) the strategy of placing the algorithm in the discursive field of help and efficiency, (2) the strategy of referential agility of the algorithm, and (3) the strategy of the algorithm’s incorporation into the organisation. Our discourse analytic approach shows that the social situatedness of digital technologies contradicts the notion of technology as a neutral tool. Second, we find that the AMS occupies an important and supporting position during the discourse. The article argues that organisations undergoing digital transformation are involved in discourses on the use of digital technologies and are central to them as such; they shape discourses and constitute phenomena.

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