Areas of research such as Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), Information Systems (IS), and Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) are interdisciplinary by virtue of their particular research questions and destined to venture beyond the conceptual and methodological sanctuaries of institutionalized disciplines. Researchers in such areas therefore face a constant temptation to import conceptual innovations or theories that might make it less taxing and troublesome to venture outside the disciplinary habitat. In the case of practice-centered computing, so-called practice theory, developed over the last few decades in the philosophy of sociology by Bourdieu, Giddens, Schatzki, and others, obviously poses such a temptation but should not be imported unexamined. The aim of this chapter is to subject this body of theory to critical scrutiny. In so doing, the argument draws on Wittgenstein’s analysis of normative regularity or “rule-following.”
Keywords: practice theory, sociology, normative regularity, Wittgenstein, Bourdieu, Giddens, Schatzki, Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW, Information Systems, IS, Human–Computer Interaction, HCI
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