The family resemblance of technologically mediated work practices

Eric Monteiro, Gasparas Jarulaitis, Vidar Hepso

Practice-based perspectives in information systems have established how, in every instance of use i.e., work practices, the user exercises considerable discretion in their appropriation of the technology with local workarounds and situated improvisations. We analyse the relationship between technologically mediated work practices separated in time and space. Specifically, we analyse how similarity in work practices is achieved. Achieving absolutely similar or best practices is unattainable. Drawing on a longitudinal 2007 to 2011 case of ambulatory maintenance work in the oil and gas sector, we identify and discuss three constituting strategies called differentiation, assembling and punctuation through which a family resemblance of similar but not the same work practices is crafted. We discuss how, in the absence of an essentialist criterion, similarity is subject to pragmatic but also political negotiations.

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