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Analytical-frameworks - Methods in user-technology studies

“Mainstream frameworks” (Psychology, social psychology, sociology), Phenomenology, Activity theory, Structuration theory,
Situated action & ethnomethodology, Distributed cognition

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Analytical-frameworks - Methods in user-technology studies

  1. 1. Antti Salovaara Aalto University, School of Business 23 January 2015 Methods in User–Technology Studies Analytical frameworks 10.45 – 11.45
  2. 2. The need for an analytical framework “Mainstream frameworks:” Psychology, social psychology, sociology Phenomenology Activity theory Structuration theory Situated action & ethnomethodology Distributed cognition Analytical frameworks
  3. 3. The need for an analytical framework Analytical framework is not absolutely necessary… (consider e.g. Mackay 2000 or Muller et al. 2004 papers) … but it helps you to: “See further” = expect what you will find and where to focus Identify an academic contribution more easily Justify the research methods in your publication Go beyond superficial findings Also, you need to show your awareness of relevant literature anyway when you prepare your paper
  4. 4. “Mainstream frameworks” Social psychology Trust, social capital, self-presentation, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, values, self-efficacy, motivation, … Psychology Thinking, creativity, problem-solving, expertise, personality, flow, attention, perception, emotion, learning, … Sociology Power, practice, culture, …
  5. 5. Phenomenology Originally developed by: Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger, Schutz Adaptations to user–technology studies by: Winograd & Flores, Dourish Phenomenology may be useful in studies on: User experience Information systems in everyday life Winograd & Flores 1986 Dourish 2001
  6. 6. Phenomenology – some key concepts Opposition to the Cartesian dualism (e.g., psychology) Objective physical world and a subjective mental world “How does the world reveal itself to us through our encounters?” Practical “being-in-the-world” (Dasein) Unreflective orientation to the world Tools (e.g., information systems) manifest in two roles: “Ready-to-hand”: when they are used without problems, unreflectively “Present-at-hand”: when a breakdown occurs Natural attitude Working under an assumption that others are rational as we are, and that their experiences are like ours (more about this in the ethnomethodology framework)
  7. 7. Ethnomethodology & situated action A micro-sociological theory Originally developed by: Garfinkel (based on Schutz’s phenomenology) Further advanced by Sacks Adaptation to user–technology studies by: Suchman (However, Heritage’s book is the best place to start) Ethnomethodology & situated action may be useful frameworks in studies on: Computer-mediated human communication Collaboration involving physical action How humans understand computers’ operations Heritage 1984 Suchman 1987
  8. 8. Ethnomethodology & situated action Intersubjectivity: How do people achieve and maintain a common understanding of the world? What are the mechanisms by which intersubjectivity is maintained in practical action? Ongoing work for intersubjectivity is the basis of social order Morality of accountability and sanctions People expect that others always aim for being understandable People go out of their way in trying to ascribe meaning to even irrational social actions Proof: “breaching experiments”: what happens when a person, without explanation, does not try to maintain intersubjectivity?
  9. 9. A breaching experiment S: (waves his hand cheerily) How are you? E: How am I in regard to what? My health, my finances, my school work, my peace of mind, my …? S: (red in the face and suddenly out of control) Look! I was just trying to be polite. Frankly, I don’t give a damn how you are. Garfinkel, 1967, p. 44
  10. 10. Ethnomethodology & situated action Turn-taking and repairs Human interaction can be analyzed as turns Applies also to physical interactions, not only verbal Humans have extremely fine abilities to repair errors in intersubjectivity Ethnomethodological phenomena in IS research context: Humans’ inability to notice and repair errors in electronic communications We notice sometimes very late that computer is not doing what we expected, because computers are not sensitive to the interactional details that we as humans have learned to take for granted
  11. 11. Distributed cognition Originally developed by: Hutchins Related to a larger movement of embodied and situated cognition May be useful in studies on: Human cooperation in technology-intensive environments How technologies augment human cognitive capabilities Division of labour between humans and computers: computational off Hutchins 1995
  12. 12. Distributed cognition Analyses cognitive processes not limited to brain When cognitive processes are carried out by humans and technologies together Hutchins’s study: ship navigation Computational off-loading & redundancy “Propagation of representational state across representational media” Land- mark 1 Land- mark 2 Land- mark 3 2. Alidade bearings 3. Bearing record log 1. The world 4. Hoey 5. Chart Image credits: See last slide
  13. 13. Applying distributed cognition (DCog) Best applicable to systems with: Computation or other cognitive work Procedures that are being followed System boundary (inside/outside) Traditional cognitive boundary: human skin / skull In DCog research, the boundary of interest can be specified by the researcher ! The world / the ship The world / the control centre ©Author
  14. 14. Affordances Originally developed by: Gibson (ecological psychologist interested in vision) Adaptations to user–technology studies by: Norman Affordance = an action potential that an animal perceives in relation between itself and its physical environment Is independent of learning! Is a useful concept in: Analyses of users’ situation-specific actions with IT After Gibson, the meaning of this concept has been greatly extended (and misused) Gibson 1979
  15. 15. Activity theory Originally developed by: Vygotsky, Luria, Leontyev, then Engeström Adaptations to user–technology studies by: Kuutti, Nardi & Kaptelinin, Bødker Activity theory may be useful in studies on: How activity systems (both individuals as well as workplaces) develop over time Kaptelinin & Nardi 2012
  16. 16. Activity theory – some key concepts Human interaction with the world is mediated by tools Physical tools (hammer) Cognitive tools (concept of derivation) Actions become automated through learning Development is continuous Zone of proximal development Internalization and externalization Hierarchies of activities Subject Tool Object Activity Action Operation Motive Goal Condition
  17. 17. Larger activity systems Systems develop through resolution of contradictions between its elements Subject Tool Object CommunityRules Division of labour (Engeström 1987)
  18. 18. Structuration theory Originally developed by: Giddens Adaptations to user–technology studies by: DeSanctis & Poole (adaptive structuration theory) Orlikowski (early works until 2000) Structuration theory may be useful in studies on: Micro–macro interactions (e.g., relationships between individuals and organizations) Dynamics in the development of practices How social structures are “embodied” in the designs of technology However, if this interests, see also Orlikowski’s “practice lens” paper (2000) Giddens 1984
  19. 19. Structuration theory Is an ambitious theoretical attempt to build a bridge between two levels of sociological theory: Macro-level: how the societal rules shape individuals Micro-level: how societal rules are redefined through action (e.g., ethnomethodology, Goffman’s frame analysis, symbolic interactionism) Agency: Structuration theory is strongly voluntaristic Human agents always “have the possibility of doing otherwise” (Giddens, 1989, p. 258)
  20. 20. Structuration theory Dimensions of structure: Dimensions of interaction: Linkages (“modalities”): Signification Domination Legitimation Interpretive schemes Facility Norm Communication Power Sanction
  21. 21. Application of structuration to IS Information systems as embodiments of social structure: Signification & domination ~ The structural features of the IS Legitimation ~ “Spirit” of technology: how system is intended to be used “Appropriation moves” : how individuals redefine the structures by interacting with technology Interpretive flexibility: “humans always have the possibility of using the IS otherwise” (cf. Giddens & agency two slides before) Suggested reading: Jones & Karsten, MISQ 2008 DeSanctis & Poole 1994: Adaptive structuration theory Orlikowski 1992: Duality of technology
  22. 22. Time for a lunch! 11.45 – 12.45
  23. 23. References DeSanctis, G. & Poole, M. S. (1994). Capturing the complexity of advance technology use: adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science, 5(2), 121–147. Dourish, P. (2001). Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Engeström, Y. (1987). Learning by Expanding. An Activity- Theoretical Approach to Developmental Research. Helsinki: Orienta-Konsultit. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Gibson, J. J. (1979). The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin. Giddens, A. (1984). The Constitution of Society: Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Giddens, A. (1989). A reply to my critics. In D. Held & J. B. Thompson (Eds.), Social Theory of Modern Societies: Anthony Giddens and His Critics (pp. 249–301). Cambridge University Press. Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Hutchins, E. (1995). Cognition in the Wild. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Jones, M. R. & Karsten, H. (2008). Giddens's structuration theory and information systems research. MIS Quarterly, 32(1), 127–157. Kaptelinin, V. & Nardi, B. (2012). Activity Theory in HCI: Fundamentals and Refllections. San Rafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool. Orlikowski, W. J. (1992). The duality of technology: rethinking the concept of technology in organizations. Organization Science, 3(3), 398–427. Orlikowski, W. J. (2000). Using technology and constituting structures: a practice lens for studying technology in organizations. Organization Science, 11(4), 404–428. Suchman, L. A. (1987). Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human–Machine Communication. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Winograd, T. & Flores, F. (1986). Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
  24. 24. Image credits “Automatically labeled nautical chart”. Downloaded from Wikimedia Commons. Public domain. http://