Doing User Involvement: Shifting Interstices and Coalescing Tensions in Care Technology

Björn Fischer*, Alexander Peine, Britt Östlund

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper explores user involvement in company practice as a method that is both contingent and transformative. Drawing on ethnographic research in a small- to medium-sized care technology company, we trace how user involvement is enacted in diverse forms to resolve, deal with, and circumvent the frictions and tensions surrounding it. While encompassing similar types of configuration work, these varying enactments differ as they selectively enroll different actants, objectives, and procedures. We refer to these peculiar enactments as occurring in shifting interstices of coalescing tensions. In so doing, we are in conversation with literature in science and technology studies studying the socio-material constitution of users and the social role of methods. We build on and extend previous arguments revolving around the effects of methods and implicit ways of designers configuring users to draw attention to the situational character of doing user involvement. In particular, we argue that investigating shifting interstices offers novel ways of analyzing and thinking about the spatialities, temporalities, frictions, and objects involved in method practices, raising awareness of what it takes to momentarily “do” method this way, and not otherwise. We conclude by discussing conceptual and practical implications for understanding and remaking methods.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Dec 2022


  • company ethnography
  • enactment
  • method practice
  • shifting interstices
  • user involvement


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