Sociomaterial Practices: Exploring Technology at Work
Wanda Orlikowski , MIT Sloan School
Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University September 29, 2006
Over the years, research studies into the relationship between humans and information technology have generated important insights into the powerful effects of technology as well as their social consequences. But because they have often emphasized either one side or the other of the relationship, such studies have tended to overlook the important ways in which people and tools are inextricably entangled. Developing a perspective that takes such entanglement seriously, may thus afford some novel and valuable insights into relations between technologies and humans. In this talk, I will discuss a way of doing this — through the notion of sociomaterial practices — which emphasizes the reciprocal and temporally emergent interactions of humans and technology, as these are realized in different contexts and over time. I will draw on some empirical research to illustrate how my colleagues and I have been using such a sociomaterial perspective in our field studies of technology in organizations.
Wanda J. Orlikowski is the Eaton-Peabody Chair of Communication Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Professor of Information Technologies and Organization Studies at MIT's Sloan School of Management. Her primary research interest focuses on the dynamic relationship between organizations and information technologies, with particular emphases on organizing structures, cultural norms, communication genres, and work practices. She is currently leading a 5-year NSF project on the social and economic implications of Internet technologies within organizations. She has served as a senior editor for Organization Science, and currently serves on the editorial boards of Information and Organization, Information Technology & People, Organization Science, and the Reflections Journal.
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