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Boundaries, believers and bodies: a cultural analysis of a multidisciplinary research community.
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Culture and Media.
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to analyze the construction of research culture and collaboration within the research studio Tools for Creativity, one node in the larger Interactive Institute. This studio is an arena that in today’s society is associated with boundary crossing, dynamics and variability: An environment with high-tech equipment, a staff equipped with diverse skills, and a flexible approach with the ambition of developing innovative tools based on ICT to strengthen human creativity. The present thesis is divided into four main parts. In Part One, culture as analytical framework is presented. This is followed by a presentation of field work, data and field site, the studio Tools for Creativity, and its employees. This includes a discussion of the methods of participant observations and deep inter-views. In the theoretical framework overview, perspectives used in this thesis is presented, including the so-called “new research landscape” debate, a background to this thesis. The introduction concludes with a chapter whith a reflexivity discussion including the making of the research self during field work and in the written text. In Part Two, entitled “Technology”, the informants’ definition of technology in relation ICT and the prototypes produced is ana-lyzed. The concepts “enlightenment optimism” and “romantic uneasiness” are presented as theoretical entrances to the chapter. This is the background for an analysis of the future- and speed-oriented discourse that characterizes the informants’ perception of technology. The aim of using technology to support human creativity, challenge presence and facilitate multi-cultural communication is further discussed. This is juxtaposed with another aspect of technol-ogy, namely the informant’s critique of technology’s impact on mankind, humanity and society. Part Three, “Re-search”, deals with interpretations and negotiations of the concept of research and the researcher conducted by the informants at Tools for Creativity. First, the concept of “boundary object” is presented followed by its use order to analyze the construction of research and the researcher in a multi-disciplinary arena like the studio. An important part of the making of the researcher is the trading of skills in the attempt of legitimizing the individuals’ efforts at conducting research. Here, focus is the negotiation of research as an activity between individuals representing the sciences and the arts, as well as those with formal education and autodidacts. Attempts to manage a broader research concept are placed in relation to academic quality demands. In this analysis, the point of departure is Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of symbolic capital. Here, gender is included as symbolic capital. Part Four is called “Reflections” and contains a discussion of the study and reflections concerning field work. This is followed by a summation of what happened to Tools for Creativity and Interactive Institute after finished field work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kultur och medier , 2007. , 209 p.
Etnologiska skrifter, ISSN 1103-6516 ; 41
Keyword [en]
Culture, ethnographic method, research, technology, boundary object/work, symbolic capital, technoromanticism, future, speed, creativity, reality, dystopia, focal things, trading, multidisciplinary, gender, reflexivity
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1088ISBN: 978-91-7264-297-3OAI: diva2:140155
Public defence
2007-05-11, Hörsal 1031, Norra Beteendevetarhuset, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2007-04-20 Created: 2007-04-20 Last updated: 2011-10-18Bibliographically approved

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Pettersson, Helena
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