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23 JANUARY 2006

Identity through shared practice and sharing stories of practice

"Such an approach is highly situated and highly improvisational. Reps [photocopy service technicians] respond to whatever the situation itself––both social and physical––throws at them, a process very similar to Levi–Strauss's (1966) concept of bricolage: the ability to 'make do with 'whatever is to hand'' (p. 17). What reps need for bricolage are not the partial, rigid models of the sort directive documentation provides, but help to build, ad hoc and collaboratively, robust models that do justice to particular difficulties in which they find themselves...

The second feature of social construction, as important but less evident than the first, is that in telling these stories an individual rep contributes to the construction and development of his or her own identity as a rep and reciprocally to the construction and development of the community of reps in which he or she works. Individually, in telling stories the rep is becoming a member. Orr notes, 'this construction of their identity as technicians occurs both in doing the work and in their stories, and their stories of themselves fixing machines show their world in what they consider the appropriate perspective' (Orr 1990b, 187). Simultaneously and interdependently, the reps are contributing to the construction and evolution of the community that they are joining––what we might call a 'community of interpretation,' for it is through the continual development of these communities that the shared means for interpreting complex activity get formed, transformed, and transmitted."

(John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid p.10)

[1] Levi–Strauss, C. (1966), p.17 The Savage Mind, Chicago: Chicago University Press.
[2] Orr, J. (1990b), p.187 'Sharing Knowledge, Celebrating Identity: War Stories and Community Memory in a Service Culture,' in D. S. Middleton and D. Edwards (Eds.), Collective Remembering: Memory in Society, Beverley Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

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