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CeMoRe/CSS Seminar: 'Configuring arenas. The fitting-out of environment for action'

Date: 29 April 2009 Time: 12.30 - 14:00 / Venue: Bowland North SR25

Centre for Mobilities Research and Centre for Science Studies Lunchtime Seminar.

Configuring arenas. The fitting-out of environment for action

David Pontille and Jerome Denis

University of Paris


Numerous studies have stressed the constitutive role of the environment for action. They emphasise the dynamic relations that must be created in the course of action in order to locally produce environmental resources. That is what J. Lave meant when she distinguished 'settings' from 'arenas' (1988). It is also what D. Kirsh showed about the intelligent use of space (1995). This research is extremely useful, but still unbalanced: intelligence and cleverness seem reserved for adjustments while improvisations by users are poorly described. In this presentation, we will explore this mirror image of situated action by investigating the work involved in configuring arenas. From an ethnographic study of subway signage production in Paris, we will analyse two main aspects of that work. The first one is the work done by designers and it can be understood with the help of ANT, in particular the study of the implementation of 'scripts' within artefacts (Akrich, 1992). The second aspect is work done by those installing and maintaining the signs who locally articulate the rules produced by designers, taking account of the materiality of the environment they work within and on, and the presence of users.

Everyone is very welcome.


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Centre for Mobilities Research (CeMoRe), Centre for Science Studies, Sociology


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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