The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Human values and digital work: an ethnographic study of device paradigm

Human values and digital work: an ethnographic study of device paradigm
Human values and digital work: an ethnographic study of device paradigm
I examine Albert Borgmann’s concept of device paradigm as a way to underscore the significance of human values in one’s engagement with digital work in an organizational setting. Device paradigm explains the pervasive patterns of everyday engagement with information technologies as devices that facilitate prosperity without burden and efforts and, in so doing, can downplay the human values in practices. Although prior research has highlighted the significance of focal things and practices, much remains to be learned about the role of human values in contemporary everyday engagement with digital technologies. Drawing on a critical ethnography of everyday practices at an information technology firm (approximately 300 employees), I apply the critical social theory of Borgmann to analyze how digital work is firmly anchored in human values, and how device paradigm can be used as a critical lens to examine the contemporary everyday engagement with information technology. The study reveals that digital devices can have focal aspects and everyday places can be seen as focal places. Focal things are firmly grounded in focal places, which facilitate the emergence of focal practices. Ethnographers are encouraged to explore values in the field (held by people) as well as values of the field (attached to the places).
critical theory, device paradigm, focal practices, ethics, human values, informal systems
0891-2416
Chughtai, Hameed
e8600973-9db8-4649-be67-def5f2a83a72
Chughtai, Hameed
e8600973-9db8-4649-be67-def5f2a83a72

Chughtai, Hameed (2019) Human values and digital work: an ethnographic study of device paradigm. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. (doi:10.1177/0891241619855130).

Record type: Article

Abstract

I examine Albert Borgmann’s concept of device paradigm as a way to underscore the significance of human values in one’s engagement with digital work in an organizational setting. Device paradigm explains the pervasive patterns of everyday engagement with information technologies as devices that facilitate prosperity without burden and efforts and, in so doing, can downplay the human values in practices. Although prior research has highlighted the significance of focal things and practices, much remains to be learned about the role of human values in contemporary everyday engagement with digital technologies. Drawing on a critical ethnography of everyday practices at an information technology firm (approximately 300 employees), I apply the critical social theory of Borgmann to analyze how digital work is firmly anchored in human values, and how device paradigm can be used as a critical lens to examine the contemporary everyday engagement with information technology. The study reveals that digital devices can have focal aspects and everyday places can be seen as focal places. Focal things are firmly grounded in focal places, which facilitate the emergence of focal practices. Ethnographers are encouraged to explore values in the field (held by people) as well as values of the field (attached to the places).

Text
JCE-18-059.R2 - Accepted Manuscript
Download (941kB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 14 May 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 14 June 2019
Keywords: critical theory, device paradigm, focal practices, ethics, human values, informal systems

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430963
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430963
ISSN: 0891-2416
PURE UUID: 0bb0a1ea-921a-40b2-9cc2-2ddef14112f1
ORCID for Hameed Chughtai: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-6272-2250

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 May 2019 16:30
Last modified: 31 Jul 2019 04:01

Export record

Altmetrics

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×