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A sociotechnical view of algorithmic fairness


Dolata, Mateusz; Feuerriegel, Stefan; Schwabe, Gerhard (2022). A sociotechnical view of algorithmic fairness. Information Systems Journal, 32(4):754-818.

Abstract

Algorithmic fairness (AF) has been framed as a newly emerging technology that mitigates systemic discrimination in automated decision-making, providing opportunities to improve fairness in information systems (IS). However, based on a state-of-the-art literature review, we argue that fairness is an inherently social concept and that technologies for AF should therefore be approached through a sociotechnical lens. We advance the discourse on AF as a sociotechnical phenomenon. Our research objective is to embed AF in the sociotechnical view of IS. Specifically, we elaborate on why outcomes of a system that uses algorithmic means to assure fairness depend on mutual influences between technical and social structures. This perspective can generate new insights that integrate knowledge from both technical fields and social studies. Further, it spurs new directions for IS debates. We contribute as follows: First, we problematize fundamental assumptions in the current discourse on AF based on a systematic analysis of 310 articles. Second, we respond to these assumptions by theorizing AF as a sociotechnical construct. Third, we propose directions for IS researchers to enhance their impacts by pursuing a unique understanding of sociotechnical AF. We call for and undertake a holistic approach to AF. A sociotechnical perspective on AF can yield holistic solutions to systemic biases and discrimination.

Abstract

Algorithmic fairness (AF) has been framed as a newly emerging technology that mitigates systemic discrimination in automated decision-making, providing opportunities to improve fairness in information systems (IS). However, based on a state-of-the-art literature review, we argue that fairness is an inherently social concept and that technologies for AF should therefore be approached through a sociotechnical lens. We advance the discourse on AF as a sociotechnical phenomenon. Our research objective is to embed AF in the sociotechnical view of IS. Specifically, we elaborate on why outcomes of a system that uses algorithmic means to assure fairness depend on mutual influences between technical and social structures. This perspective can generate new insights that integrate knowledge from both technical fields and social studies. Further, it spurs new directions for IS debates. We contribute as follows: First, we problematize fundamental assumptions in the current discourse on AF based on a systematic analysis of 310 articles. Second, we respond to these assumptions by theorizing AF as a sociotechnical construct. Third, we propose directions for IS researchers to enhance their impacts by pursuing a unique understanding of sociotechnical AF. We call for and undertake a holistic approach to AF. A sociotechnical perspective on AF can yield holistic solutions to systemic biases and discrimination.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Informatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
Scope:Discipline-based scholarship (basic research)
Language:English
Date:1 July 2022
Deposited On:11 Oct 2021 10:06
Last Modified:25 Jun 2024 01:44
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:1350-1917
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Related URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/isj.12370
Other Identification Number:merlin-id:21570
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English
  • Description: aktualisierte Version (April 2023)