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id ddssar9612
authors Gorawara-Bhat, Rita
year 1996
title The physical context of social order
source Timmermans, Harry (Ed.), Third Design and Decision Support Systems in Architecture and Urban Planning - Part one: Architecture Proceedings (Spa, Belgium), August 18-21, 1996
summary The present ethnographic study of work settings in an established survey research center (Midwest Survey) is unique in that it combines both social organizational specifcs j4 interior physical context in contrast to previous studies that have focussed either on physical aspects or on the social dimensions of work settings. For more than four years the author observed the spatial adaptation by personnel of Midwest Survey. The dates under consideration roughly coincide with a move of Midwest Survey from an original facility to a new (and larger) set of offices. Anchored by seventy three open-ended interviews (constituing roughly 30% of the staff) the observations were carried on during and after the interviews. The synthesis of the ethnographic material revealed that physical settings act not only as a background for facilities, but they become a salient aspect of work life as indicators of status /role congruency and incongruency. Physical settings, therefore, are proposed as "extension" attributes of role structure. In doing so, Nadel's conceptualization of role structure as comprising pivotal arid peripheral attributes (1957) is amplified to include the physical setting as an "extension" attribute. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are suggested.
series DDSS
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