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  • 2018CarolynneLordPhD

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Integrating tablet computers into daily life: an investigation of changing practices and interconnections

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date2018
Number of pages268
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Questions about how objects and technologies are appropriated and ‘used’ inform studies of uptake and ‘domestication’. Such studies generally focus on how new devices become normal, how they stabilise and how they reach ‘closure’. By contrast, social theories of practice suggest that daily life, and the practices which constitute it, are inherently dynamic. This thesis attends to this tension.

Tablet computers have been spectacularly successful (58% of households now own one (Ofcom, 2018)), despite providing many of the same services as those already available on laptops and smartphones. In working with this example the thesis asks what the tablet is, what it is ‘for’ and how this changes.

In tackling these questions, the thesis develops an ‘integrative’ approach that reconceptualises established concepts of ‘use’. Empirical chapters based on semi-structured interviews with people who have tablet computers explore different forms of integrating: showing how tablets become part of specific and multiple practices, how they are positioned with respect to other related objects, and how they reconfigure the very practices of which they become a part. The thesis therefore, examines the tablet as a device through which different practices are linked and integrated; treating them as ‘extended objects’ defined by relations that stretch far beyond the physical qualities of the tablet itself. This analysis argues for reconceptualising concepts of ‘use’ to better account for these multiple relations, their ongoing transformation, and the consequent de-centering of ‘the user’.