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Adapting social practice theory for use in evaluating cultural change

Date: 17 February 2010 Time: 12.30 - 2.00 p.m.

Venue: IAS MR1

Seminar to be given by Dr Neil Lent, CSET, Lancaster University.

'Adapting social practice theory for use in evaluating cultural change'

It can be argued that we now live in an 'audit society' where systems of work, government and public services are subject to management discourses based on accountability and excellence. These methods fixate on measurement, quantification benchmarking, identification of performance indicators with a view to developing and spreading 'best practice'.

However, some initiatives will also entail a change of culture/outlook amongst its users if they are to succeed. Such changes are likely to be more difficult to measure than simple structural issues. Structural factors can also influence whether the necessary cultural change takes place. Therefore a means of taking into account the interaction between structural factors and users' values at various levels within an organisation may be useful in understanding any cultural changes. It is argued that audit-based evaluation approaches are unable to do this and that an alternative approach is needed. Theories based around the idea of social practice such as Activity Theory or communities of practice may provide a means of developing a more appropriate evaluation methodology.

This seminar presentation will use our ongoing evaluation of the Scottish Funding Council's Quality Enhancement Framework to explore issues that arise when evaluating a system where changes in culture, ethos and practice are necessary components in determining the success of a policy initiative.


Who can attend: Anyone


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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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