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Can practice theory inspire studies of ICTs in everyday life?

July 21, 2008

blogging on peer-reviewed research white.pngChristensen, T.K. and I. Røpke (forthcoming in press) Can practice theory inspire studies of ICTs in everyday life? In Bräuchler, B. and J. Postill (eds) Theorising Media and Practice. Oxford and New York: Berghahn.

This chapter by Toke Haunstrup Christensen and Inge Røpke explores the practical uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the daily lives of Danish families through examples of practices such as shopping, ‘holding things together’, maintaining social networks, or ‘killing time’. Taking issue with Reckwitz’s (2002) depiction of individuals as the ‘carriers’ of practices, the authors stress the importance of social interaction. In most cases, they suggest, ‘the successful performance of a practice depends on the active participation of several persons’, for instance, when micro-coordinating a shared family dinner over several mobile phones. Whilst concurring with Shove and her associates (e.g. Shove and Pantzar 2005) on the need to overcome the neglect of materiality by practice theorists (such as Bourdieu, Giddens or de Certeau) they also point out that Shove et al, like Reckwitz, downplay social interaction.  The chapter ends with some remarks on the challenges of using practice theory for the study of ICTs in everyday life, including the empirical difficulties of separating out one practice from another (e.g. shopping vs. ‘holding things together’), or ascertaining whether a given activity belongs with more than one practice simultaneously.

NB to read other chapter summaries, see under “Media and Practice book” category

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