practice theory

Practice at the Crossroads: When Practice Meets Theory, A Rumination

MELISSA CEFKIN Consumer practices, work practices, not to mention management, design and research practices. The notion of “practice” remains core to much of what ethnographers in industry examine, expose and aim to inform. This paper questions: while we study practice(s), while we may frame our research and analysis with sensitivity towards rendering visible the richness or particularity of peoples’ practice, what have we really learned about practice? In part aimed at considering whether and how the work performed by ethnographers in industry advances or critiques theories of practice as explored by Bourdieu and others, the paper aims to reconcile the fact that we are “there” at the behest of our business counterparts to have an impact and affect change. So the question shifts from not only how we use and understand concepts of practice to how it frames the expectations of our business partners and stakeholders. What I have found is that there is both productive overlap and significant slippage between our (theoretically...

The Dō and Jutsu of Strategic Ethnography: Balancing the Way and the Art of Understanding

LUCAS MCCANN, CORIN LUDWIG and MATT MULLINS In Japan, martial arts emerged from a long period of violence. Once warring ceased, philosophical practices formed on this foundation of efficacy. These martial arts are called by names ending in –jutsu (“technique”) and –dō (“way”), respectively. From ethnography’s rich tradition of understanding grew the practical art of understanding as a means to an end. But strip portions of the practice from the way, and problems sprout. For social research to remain relevant, practitioners must strive to embody the essential spirit of ethnography - understanding people. In the martial arts, Dō and Jutsu practiced by masters are identical. In the field of design research, we similarly balance understanding and application to deliver strategic outcomes. However, external factors push this practice to become more predictable and thereby threaten the balance. Using the analogy of Dō and Jutsu in the martial arts, we explore the challenges that strategic ethnography faces today....