The article explains a cultural studies informed approach on doing user research in work context. The authors see workplaces as individual cultures which values and beliefs have grown out of experiences of the members of the workplace and have been captures in artifacts, symbols and work practices. The authors also see culture as implicit, i.e. hidden behind the activities of its members. The cultural approach in studying organizations and workplaces changes the focus of studies from organizational structures, competences and lines of communication to language, traditions, rituals and stories.
The article also lists three concepts that the authors have found most useful for studying workplace cultures during computer system design:
- Physical and material artifacts
- Verbal symbols
- Work practices
In addition the authors state that a collaborative and iterative approach is needed when studying workplace cultures. In practice this means adjusting and developing hypothesis during field research (interviews) based on the feed-back from the studied persons.