Ensembles: understanding the instantiation of activities

Víctor M. González, Bonnie Nardi, Gloria Mark
2009 Information Technology and People  
This paper introduces the notion of ensembles to understand the way object-related activities are instantiated in practice. An ensemble is an intermediate unit of work between action and activity in the hierarchical framework proposed by classical activity theory. Ensembles are the midlevel of activity, offering more flexibility than objects, but more purposeful structure than actions. We discuss the value of the notion of ensembles to close a conceptual gulf not adequately addressed in
more » ... theory, and to understand the practical aspects of the instantiation of objects over time. Emerging from the analysis of the practices of professional information workers in two different companies, we illustrate the relevance of the notion of ensembles for activity theory and suggest some benefits of this conceptualization for analyzing human work in areas such as human-computer interaction and computersupported collaborative work.
doi:10.1108/09593840910962195 fatcat:izzr73reszbohb35sfdsl3ave4