This panel explores understandings and uses of the notion of practice within the field of Science and Technology Studies. Its purpose is to examine both confluences and challenges arising from working at the intersection of STS scholarship and social theories of practice.
Theories of practice are increasingly widely invoked across a range of fields, including within Science and Technology Studies. There are, for example, references to user practices (e.g. Schot et al.), to energy saving practices (e.g. Gram-Hanssen), to practices of consumption (e.g. Wallenborn and Wilhite), and to the value of approaching empirical topics through the 'lens' of practice. Within STS, there are also traditions of studying situated practices (e.g. Lave and Wenger; Star) and communities of practice (e.g. Suchman, Wenger), as well as STS-inspired organisational studies of management as practice (e.g. Orlikowski). In addition to a shared interest in practices, STS and practice theories have further been brought into dialogue around issues of materiality, spatiality, and methodology. The purpose of this panel is to interrogate these meetings, probe different interpretations of practice, and develop questions and concepts that lie at the intersection of these various traditions. Put simply, we invite papers that contribute to exploring two questions: What does STS scholarship contribute to the understanding and analysis of social practice? And, conversely, how do social theories of practice (in all their forms) add to, or challenge, debates within STS? Papers might include conceptual contributions based either on empirical investigation or innovative combinations or conjunctions of ideas from across 'practice theory' broadly defined. Whatever the angle or the approach, we are looking for contributors to engage with challenging and collaborative intersections, successful and failed meetings and innovative integrations and combinations between practice theory and STS.
Coordinating arrays of practice or managing intermittent oligoptica? Reflections from the intersection of households and home heating, STS and practice theory