HMI753. Social Studies of Work and Technology, 5p

Instructor Professor John Bowers,, Guest Professor at KTH
Semester Fall 2002
Prerequisites No prior knowledge of social scientific theory or method will be assumed and throughout the emphasis will be on what the computer sciences can gain in practical terms from the social sciences.

The course will particularly focus on studies whose methods or general orientation is social scientific in nature. The use of methods and concepts from the social sciences is becoming increasingly influential in the research fields of CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work), HCI (Human Computer Interaction) and VR (Virtual Reality). This course is intended to give an impression of the state of the art in social science research which takes an interest in computer technology in these fields. After a general introduction and a presentation of the research methods of interest in the course, Professor Bowers will present a series of case studies of various work settings ('workplace studies') and encourage discussion of their implications for computer system development.

The course will finish with a summary of current problems and issues for those who wish to draw inspiration from the social sciences for computer system development and a discussion of possible future directions.


Books, Edited Books and Collections of Readings

  • Baecker, R. (1993). Readings in Groupware and Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Assisting Human-Human Collaboration. Mountain View, CA: Morgan-Kaufmann Publishers.
  • Bijker, W., Hughes, T. and Pinch, T. (1987). The Social Construction of Technological Systems: New Directions in the Sociology and History of Technology. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • Bowers, J. M. and Benford, S. D. (1991). Studies in Computer Supported Cooperative Work: Theory, Practice and Design. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  • Button, G. (1993). Technology in Working Order: Studies of Work, Interaction and Technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Greenbaum, J. and Kyng, M. (1991). Design at Work: Cooperative Design of Computer Systems. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Greif, I. (1988). Computer-supported cooperative work: A book of readings. Los Altos, CA: Morgan-Kaufmann Publishers.
  • Jirotka, M., Goguen, J. and Bickerton, M. (1994). Reconceptualising Requirements. London: Academic Press.
  • Marca, D. and Bock, G. (1992) Groupware: Software for Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society Press.
  • Thomas, P. (1995). The Social and Interactional Dimensions of Human-Computer Interfaces. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Articles and Conference Contributions

References to specific studies will be given in the course sessions and can also be found on the downloadable OHPs. Most of these will be drawn from:
  • Proceedings of the CSCW series of conferences (CSCW86, 88, 90, 92, 94, 96, 98) published by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM, New York)
  • Proceedings of the European CSCW conferences (ECSCW89, 91, 93, 95, 97) published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht (91, 93, 95 and 97; a selection from ECSCW89 was reprinted as Bowers and Benford, 1991)
  • Proceedings of the annual CHI series of conferences since about 1990, also published by the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM, New York).
  • You should also browse the CSCW journal published by Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht. The ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) also publishes social scientific studies of technology from time to time and is well worth browsing for relevant work.


Individual paper writing assignments


The course will comprise 4 sessions, each of 4 hours in duration, and concern itself with the different ways in which studies of work and technology can influence computer system development.

The session are :
October,16 (Wednesday) October, 17 (Thursday) November, 20 (Wednesday) November, 21 (Thursday)
All sessions start at 10 -12 and 13 -15.
The course takes place at IPLab, room 1625 (always) Floor 6th - KTH/NADA