EUSSET Colloquium on Concepts and Theory

The next EUSSET Colloquium is approaching! It will be held on the 10th of November, from 16:30 to 18:00 CET. In this colloquium we will focus on concepts and theories

In the first part of the colloquium, Kjeld Schmidt, Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School, will lead a discussion on the concept of work in CSCW and the challenges that studies of work pose. The second part of the colloquium will feature a discussion on theory building in CSCW, led by Henrik Korsgaard, Department of Computer Science, Aarhus University. Below you find further information on what to expect from each discussion.

Make sure to register by the 8th of November 2021 to be able to participate. You just need to send an e-mail to communitybuilding[at]eusset.eu communicating your interest!

Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

The EUSSET Colloquium is a forum where community members can engage in deep intellectual exchanges

CSCW with the W

Kjeld Schmidt, 16:30 – 17:15 CET

Computer technologies are applied in just about all aspects of human life and for all kinds of purposes and in all sorts of ways: embedded process control in washing machines and nuclear power plants and airline cockpits, video players and juke boxes, calculators and timepieces and calendars, messaging and word processing, typesetting and layout of books or magazines, simulation games, etc. All of these applications have required careful study of the application domain in question and its specific technicalities and requirements. Developing computational support for cooperative work requires very specific studies, in that workers have developed (and learned, and trained in using) a host of sophisticated and often subtle coordinative practices that developers need to understand in some detail in order to develop computational artifacts that are actually useful (and not destructive). This is what CSCW emerged to deliver. This in turn requires of CSCW that it focuses of the specifics — cooperative work practices: how to study them, describe them, compare them — and does not wander off and become yet another sociological fashion (with a decent travel budget). In the discussion I suggest we try to clarify the very concept of work (because it when used as technical term becomes very confusing) and the challenges that studies of work pose.

Suggested reading:

Schmidt, Kjeld (2010) ‘Keep Up the Good Work!’: The Concept of ‘Work’ in CSCW. Proceedings of COOP 2010, pp. 265–286. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-84996-211-7.

Theory-building in EUSSET/eCSCW?

Henrik Korsgaard, 17:15 – 18:00 CET

The European approach to practice-based computing and computer-supported cooperative work have always had a strong theoretical orientation to supplement the empirical and technical work (activity theory, distributed cognition, situated action, boundary objects, infrastructuring to name a few). As various research traditions come together, we often see the introduction of new theoretical and methodological perspectives from the origin fields. However, following Kuhn et al, at some point this multidisciplinary state can mature into a more coherent sense of field. First through interdisciplinary perspective and in time establish some intradisciplinary core. Part of this core is shared ideas and theoretical constructs that may not be “grand” theory or theory with a capital T, but still represent a body of ideas people come together around. For us, this means moving from relying on theoretical imports and adaptations, to developing our own novel theoretical ideas. Here, theory is not taken as the product of a discipline (Theory and formalized modes etc.) or the kind of theories we put in textbooks (or theories that follow logic positivism), but the early ideas that we mediate between particular cases and studies of practice and then concepts and contributions that can be engaged with within the community. Weick (1995) characterize this act of theorizing as “interim struggles” and propose looking at the how we use references, lists, diagrams, sketches, hypotheses etc. as intermediaries in making sense of and (implicitly) developing theory. The questions for the colloquium, based on reading Weick, is:

  • Should we develop more theory and what can theory do for our research practice?
  • What are the intellectual tools and means for developing theory?
  • How can we be better at owning up to “theorizing” in our work?

Suggested Reading:

Weick, K. E. (1995). What theory is not, theorizing is, Administrative Science Quarterly40(3), 385-390.

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