Participating Technologies? Nonhuman Others and Socio-Material Assemblages

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This talk takes up the conversation analytical understanding of participation and combines it with the idea of technical agency developed in actor-network theory (Latour 2005). Rather than depicting nonhumans as objects of human actions, actor-network theory understands actions as socio-material assemblages of humans and nonhumans that form actions. Thus nonhumans become participants of social actions. But, actor-network theory misses the moment-by-moment development of practices, which, for example, can be seen in workplace studies (Luff, Hindmarsh, & Heath 2001) and does not distinguish different participation statuses within the assemblage. According to Goodwin & Goodwin (2004, p. 222) the paper understands participation as “actions demonstrating forms of involvement performed by parties within evolving structures of talk.” This perspective directs the focus towards practices and the accounts and interpretations evolving within these practices. The present talk focuses on the participation status of technologies that evolves within the structure of certain practices. How can technologies interactionally be constructed as participants and can we different kinds of participation statuses of technologies? The discussion will be based on the analysis of video-recordings from two data-sets that show different ways of how technologies take part in interactions. The focus is set on the participation framework of the situation and the construction of a participation status of the technology. The first example shows an interchange between a human and a human-like software programme. The analysis shows how (episodically) the technology can becomes a conversation partner. The other example derives from a try-out period in which people with acquired brain injury were introduced to a new walking help. The analysis shows how the practice of walking can only be establish by the close interplay of a hybrid assemblage consisting of the material affordances of the technology, the bodily affordances of the user and the scaffolding by the accompanying helpers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationREVISITING PARTICIPATION Language and Bodies in Interaction 24-27 June 2015, University of Basel, Switzerland : Book of abstracts
Publication date25 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2015
EventRevisiting Participation: Language and Bodies in Interaction - University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Duration: 24 Jun 201527 Jun 2015


ConferenceRevisiting Participation
LocationUniversity of Basel


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