Chapter 2: Working in coordination centres
Just as the factory represented the ideal-typical workplace for the study of work in the industrial age, and just as the laboratory has been the locus in which science has been studied as the outcome of the working practices of scientists in flesh and blood (Latour and Woolgar, 1979), so coordination centres have become the main places of reference for studies on knowingin-practice. Coordination centres are airport control towers, the control rooms for railway or subway traffic, the call centres which handle emergency calls and deploy ambulances, as well as all those work situations characterized by information and communication technologies used to support cooperation at a distance. Coordination centres are representative of a set of situations which have to do with ‘working together’, where ‘together’ refers to the world of humans interacting with the world of non-humans and, mainly, with the information and communication technologies which support distance work. These places are interesting for the study of working and organizational practices because they make it possible to revise standard categories of analysis like cooperation and individual/collective work, as well as ‘organizing’ understood as an activity situated in practices (Czarniawska, 2008; Weick, 1979). They are also interesting because they allow analysis of the invisible work (Star and Strauss, 1999) required of communities of practice so that technological systems can operate.
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