Rethinking context

TitleRethinking context
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsPlowman L
Abstract

The paper considers different ways of conceptualising the settings in which research takes place into children’s everyday uses of digital technologies at home. The terms ‘ecology’ and ‘context’ are widely used to describe such settings but may be less appropriate as the boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘technology’ become less distinct. The paper traces associations between ‘ecology’, ‘culture’ and ‘context’ and outlines some of the ways in which the increasing omnipresence and invisibility of technologies in the home prompt different ways of both thinking about the research setting and suitable methods for exploring children’s everyday lives. Using the Internet of Things as an illustration, it contests default understandings of context and discusses the need to reconsider our use of terminology so that it takes account of the methodological implications and its theoretical provenance.The paper considers different ways of conceptualising the settings in which research takes place into children’s everyday uses of digital technologies at home. The terms ‘ecology’ and ‘context’ are widely used to describe such settings but may be less appropriate as the boundaries between ‘home’ and ‘technology’ become less distinct. The paper traces associations between ‘ecology’, ‘culture’ and ‘context’ and outlines some of the ways in which the increasing omnipresence and invisibility of technologies in the home prompt different ways of both thinking about the research setting and suitable methods for exploring children’s everyday lives. Using the Internet of Things as an illustration, it contests default understandings of context and discusses the need to reconsider our use of terminology so that it takes account of the methodological implications and its theoretical provenance.