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Shining a light on agency: Examining responses to resource constraints to uncover opportunities for design
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Shining a light on agency: Examining responses to resource constraints to uncover opportunities for design

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A presentation given at the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference 2011, in Boulder, Co. Get in touch if you are interested in reading the paper. ...

A presentation given at the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference 2011, in Boulder, Co. Get in touch if you are interested in reading the paper.

Abstract: People employ creative ways to overcome the challenges of daily life. The construct of agency is a productive area of inquiry when considering how people respond to these challenges. Exploring moments of agency provides an embodied understanding of people’s motivations and helps reveal the structural and technological barriers they encounter every day. We propose a framework of agency and three corresponding categories: resourcefulness, resilience, and powerlessness. This framework was developed while working with data from two design ethnographies: one in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and the other in Seattle, Washington.

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Shining a light on agency: Examining responses to resource constraints to uncover opportunities for design Shining a light on agency: Examining responses to resource constraints to uncover opportunities for design Presentation Transcript

  • SHINING A LIGHT ON AGENCY
    Examining responses to resource constraints to uncover opportunities for design
    Emma Rose, PhD & Robert Racadio
    Anthro-Tech, Inc./University of Washington
  • The users of technology and their contexts are becoming more diverse
  • We need to develop approaches to help us better understandanddesignfor these users and contexts
  • Structuration theory looks at the dynamic interplay between agency and structure
  • Actors
    work together or individually to get by or get ahead
  • !
    ?
    Actors
    act reflexively and purposefully
  • Structure
    refers to the organizing aspects of society
  • Norms
    Rules
    Institutions
    Structure
    refers to the organizing aspects of society
  • Actors can act according or against structural constraints.
    They can inform and modify structure through their everyday practice.
  • Seattle and Bishkek
  • Seattle and Bishkek
    Design ethnography
    Group interviews
    Social mapping
    Design ethnography
    Group interviews
    Video diaries
  • Agency is the ability to act or act otherwise
  • Agency is the ability to act or act otherwise
    Powerlessness
    Resiliency
    Resourcefulness
  • Resourcefulness
    Deploying expertise to resolvestructural constraints inways that are sanctioned and productive
  • Resiliency
    Manipulatingstructures or resources to overcomebarriers, inunsanctionedor unanticipated ways
  • Powerlessness
    Theinabilitytoovercome structural constraints
  • Use the framework of agency to
    : structurefield data across sites
    : critiqueexisting designs
    : design foragency
  • Look fortensions between agency and structure to reveal systemic inequities andopportunities fordesign
  • Emma Rose, PhD
    emmarose@anthro-tech.com
    Robert Racadio
    racadio@uw.edu
    Thanks!Part of this research was funded by National Science Foundation awards #0219350 and #0326101