1 The Department of Psychology and Educational Studies, Roskilde University2 Subject, Technology and Social Practice, Department of People and Technology, Roskilde University
The author performed an investigation of how a house was designed. He participated mainly in meetings, in which the house was engineered. The meetings proceeded in an agreeable atmosphere. While the architect was mostly concerned with integrating the functionality of the house, the engineer engaged himself in controlling every detail of the shape of the concrete slaps. He pushed all the other participants of the meetings, asking for details, information, the change of drawings etc. He explained the technical issues he was pursuing, was prepared for problems at the meetings, was well informed, always had the drawing for an upcoming discussion, he was also helpful, e.g. when somebody had to compute something he produced a calculator and assisted in the computation. Once at a meeting the participants had to deal with a request from the city: could the house be moved one meter towards the curb? The participant observer believed it was a matter of changing coordinates, but the engineers immediately saw it was an issue of pipes in the ground, could they be moved and still function as planned? To decide the possibility of this suggestion the engineer was given the task of investigating the consequences of moving the house with respect to its servicing pipes. It was immediately underlined that this task was a surplus task and would therefore trigger an extra payment. When I interviewed the participants and asked them how they understood the function of the engineer, they revealed some irritation, since they saw him as a bit pushy. On the other hand they understood why he was so since his firm would be fined if the concrete slabs did not meet specifications. The case will be the basis for a discussion of double motivation of the engineer, his evident interest in his professional work, and the wish to avoid his firm being fined. The discussion will be based on a conception of concrete praxis and touch upon issues of power, agency and constraints.
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25th EGOS Colloquium: Passion for creativity and innovation, 2009