Camilla Moring (pictured right) talked today about Studying information practice from a practice perspective: Outlining an analytical model of information practice, at the i3 conference at the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen http://www.i3conference2011.org.uk
She undertook an ethnographic study of sales assistants who had just started working for the Danish train company. Her theoretical base was the work of Etienne Wenger, with focus on situated practice and communities of practice (CoPs). Moring emphasised that the theory of CoPs was really an analytical tool (rather than a management tool!) She talked about issues of negotiation (e.g. negotiation of meaning in whether to follow or bend the rules about railway ticketing) and identity (with the idea of "trajectories of participation", identity developing through time and through engagement with communities).
There were a number of interesting findings presented, but just to pick out part of this, Moring identified four focus points in development of the newcomers' information practice. These were about the participants:
- asking (which provided information about rules),
- observing practice (so they learnt sales behaviour and locally negotiated ways of doing things),
- overhearing conversations (learning norms and values) and
- seeking printed and electronic information resources (to explore possible identities as salepersons, and keeping track of news to keep up-to-date).
As I said, there was a lot more of interest in this presentation, including the diagram you get a glimpse of, above, I will add any links I find about her research.