In Search of Sensitive Ethnography of Change: Tracing the Invisible Handoffs from Technology Developers to Users
Mind, Culture, and Activity Volume 12, Number 2, ISSN 1074-9039
It is suggested that the prevailing form of technology adoption and stabilization through the "handing-off" of technologies across multiple, discontinuous worlds relies on articulation work that is largely invisible. In this article, I discuss the possibilities of opening the black box, that is, finding out how the "invisible" in technology production and use can be traced. I suggest a research methodology that is sensitive not only to the processes of exclusion, but also to the emerging interactions and expansive efforts among technology developers and users. The challenge of such dynamic methodology is to trace online the emerging new pattern of activity when it does not have any center or clear material entity. The context of my doctoral research, the early implementation of an innovation, is a clear example of such an activity. It is a collaborative and potentially expansive endeavor in which both the innovation and the user activity are transformed as the innovation is adopted into use. I call this research practice, which follows activity theory, the "ethnography of change". I elaborate on part of my doctoral research in which the ethnographer's sensitiveness to the participants' marginality enriched the activity-theoretical analysis and demonstrated a need for reflecting on the methodological strategies used in activity-theoretical research on work and organizations. I suggest that if the activity-theoretical analysis of work practices is further developed as an ethnography of change, able to reveal the multivoicedness that exceeds the expected or hypothetical categories, more attention needs to be paid to the sensitivity of ethnography and the interactive processes of the data collection. (Contains 11 footnotes and 1 figure.)
Hasu, M. (2005). In Search of Sensitive Ethnography of Change: Tracing the Invisible Handoffs from Technology Developers to Users. Mind, Culture, and Activity, 12(2), 90-112.