sociomaterial theory

Research update #14 – A break and some progress

I had grand ambitions of working on my research every day over the Christmas/New Year break – I took a few days off beforehand, my housemate is overseas, conditions were ideal.

Ultimately I realised that what I actually needed was time to do nothing. Between full-time work and serious study last year, it felt at times as though my mind never quite shut down. So when the time came to sit down and read and process and write, my brain just said “nope” and I said “well ok then”. It was the right thing to do.

I’ve accepted that I can’t answer all the questions that interest me and that I need to delve more fully into a specific area. My other professional activities seem to be nudging me towards the role of Education Advisors in Tertiary Education in supporting TELT – though I do feel as though there is a rich vein to explore currently in looking at the nature of the Higher Ed. executive in driving learning innovation, particularly in terms of fast tracking plans to blow up the lecture by demolishing large lecture spaces. Lots of good stuff for a sociomaterialist in there I’d imagine.

However Education Advisors (I think) occupy a space that I find a little more relatable and that hopefully I can do more with in the longer term.

My project plan is fairly well out of whack in terms of covering the literature that I had hoped to on a month by month basis, if I intend to have my thesis proposal ready by July. July is an arbitrary target that I’ve set and I think it could be pushed out a couple of months without too much tut-tutting.

I’ve been avoiding looking at theory too much up until now, fearing that it would limit my scope and my ability to explore. Also I suspect I was a little scared of picking the wrong one or rejecting the one that I should or need to pursue. But I guess I can’t really make that call until I have a better idea of what’s in them so I spent today swimming through a soup of new language and concepts in the realm of Sociomaterial theory. I’d come across Wanda J Orlikowski a few times previously so I read an essay and a paper by her relating to new ways of thinking about technology in the workplace. I’m still processing it and feeling like spending the last few years studying sociology and management/organisation concepts might’ve been useful but it does offer an interesting lens to look through.

Among the new terms that I’ve encountered:

  • constitutive entanglement (not playing Twister in the High Court)
  • sociotechnical ensemble (not Inspector Gadgets party overcoat)
  • temporally emergent (not coming out of the Tardis)
  • absent presence (not the lack of gifts from deadbeat friends)
  • thingification (that’s just cool)

Happy New Year and I hope you have a marvellous 2017 full of wonder and joy. I hope we all do.