4th May 2012

Event: How users figure in innovation projects, May 16

An event at Goldsmiths, featuring Torben Elgaard Jensen – on the Charisma steering committee – and Morton Krogh Petersen. Organised by Alex Wilkie, in association with the Interaction Research Studio and the Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process.

Doing Intervention and Enacting the ‘Everyday’: How Users Figure in Innovation Projects

Intervention and the everyday


16th May 2012 | 16:30 – 18:30
NAB LGO1 (New Academic Building)
Goldsmiths, University of London
New Cross, London
SE14 6NW, UK
This seminar will include two 30 minute presentations (abstracts below) followed by a discussion.

Intervention By Invitation
Torben Elgaard Jensen
Over the past three decades, STS has increasingly moved from a position of often ‘studying up’ to a position of often ‘being invited’ into scientific, technological and political projects. As a consequence, more and more STS researchers now find themselves having access not only to the sites, but also at times to the discussions and the decisions. With these new points of entry, the key question about intervention may no longer be if STS will be heard, but rather how the contributions from STS will combine with those of other participants in joint projects. The article investigates how Danish STS researchers were invited to intervene under the auspices of a national programme to promote user-driven innovation, and how they gradually developed new versions of the well-established conceptions of the users known from the STS literature. The new versions of the user raised higher hopes about the innovative potential of users, and evoked deeper fears about elusive publics and disloyal customers. Finally, the article considers the peculiar ‘middle management’ position that STS researchers may hold as mediators between users and projects, and it proposes the term ‘intervention-as-composition’ to designate the type of intervention that may result from mediating between previously unconnected actors.

The everyday enactment of “the everyday” in an innovation project
Morten Krogh Petersen
The everyday is often believed to hold an important key to innovation. Hence, private and public sector organizations alike are currently developing a keen interest in descriptions of the everyday lives of users, consumers, citizens, employees etc. (Thrift 2006; Cefkin 2009; O’Dell & Willim 2011). Through a wide range of methods and activities, everyday lives are laboriously scrutinized and attempts are made at bringing the resulting descriptions into innovation processes. Scholars within the field of STS on innovation and users have noted this development and conceptualize the everyday in different and programmatic ways (e.g. Akrich 1992; Suchman, Blomberg et al. 1999; Halse, Brandt et al. 2010; Pantzar & Shove 2010). But what is this everyday and how, more precisely, is it handled in innovation projects? The paper develops the argument that the everyday is by no means an unproblematic field of investigation ready for scrutiny and subsequent utilization in innovation projects. It does so through a close analysis of how the everyday is studied, enacted and handled in a Danish, government supported user-driven innovation project concerning work practices at an outpatient clinic. The analysis shows how different versions of the everyday at the clinic are enacted and handled in the innovation projects different user involving activities. It is argued that this handling of the users’ everyday is an important aspect in understanding how innovation happens – or not – in contemporary innovation projects. Actually, finding ways of handling the everyday innovatively may be one of the crucial challenges of current user-driven innovation projects.