Mobilization of Software Developers: The Free Software Movement

TitleMobilization of Software Developers: The Free Software Movement
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsElliott, M
Date PublishedMay

Free/open source software (F/OSS) development projects are growing at a rapid rate. Globally dispersed virtual communities with large groups of software developers contribute time and effort often without pay. One force behind this phenomenon is the Free Software Movement (FSM), a 20 year-old social movement whose purpose is to promote the use of free software instead of proprietary software. We show how the ideology of the FSM influences software development work practices in F/OSS communities and how an occupational community of F/OSS developers has emerged from this movement. We present results from an empirical study of a F/OSS development community, GNUenterprise (GNUe) whose purpose is to build an Enterprise Resource Planning system. We show how the beliefs in freedom and freedom of choice, and the values of cooperative work and community building are manifested in the GNUe norms of informal self-management, immediate acceptance of fellow contributors, and open disclosure.

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