Editorial

By Hviid, Pernille | Outlines : Critical Practice Studies, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Editorial


Hviid, Pernille, Outlines : Critical Practice Studies


It is with great pleasure that I introduce this new issue of Outlines - Critical Practice Studies. It is composited by four innovative, thought-provoking and generous papers. On behalf of the editorial team, I hope you will enjoy them. This editorial points back in time to our last issue, giving a brief introduction to the articles to those of you, who might have missed out on this issue so far.

Vol. 17, no. 1 is all about collaboration. On a macro level one paper studies collaboration between Nepalese workers and their workplace during economic crises; on a micro level - or on the level of psychological functions - one paper investigates requirements to artificial speech-mediators for speech-impaired persons. In between these levels, papers on collaboration in development of educational practices dominates the issue.

Studying collaborative practices, or taking active part as a researcher in collaborative projects, is in a dialectical sense at the heart of Outlines - Critical Practice Studies. In simple words this journal is built on an ethical credo that the enterprise of research is not just about the lives of people but just as well along with and for the people living. The five papers approach collaboration in particular ways, and with particular foci, which I, in the following, will do my best to present.

Hengst, McCartin, Valentino, Devenga and Sherril (2016) investigate communicative practices between speech-impaired and non-speech-impaired students navigating at a university campus. Their research-question regards the development of artificial speechmediators, which in everyday life helps numerous persons with speech-disabilities. Building on Cultural Historical Activity Theory, the authors take a critical stand towards the interpretation of speech-devices as mere replacements of a damaged body part. Following their line of theory such devices are rather to be seen as mediators of distributed, communicative activity and dialogical practice. They find empirical support for this argument through a fine-grained analysis of everyday communicative practices of speech-impaired students as they navigate, interact and engage in dialogue with other human beings in fairly complex functional activity systems at the campus of University of Illinois, and this turns speech into a collaborative communicative medium rather than an organ of sounds. Language is thus not only communicative but a tool for making sense of and creating cultural meanings within a community.

On a macro level Bhattarai (2016) investigates collaborative practices amongst workers in the industrial sector during special conditions of industrial crises. Bhattarai's case is the historical situation of Nepal, where natural disasters such as massive earthquakes, flooding and landslides and only making things worse, a massacre of the royal family, riots and decades of political instability and economic deprivation. Reviewing the literature on organizational mechanisms, the author finds that a prevailing assumption is that industrial relations concentrate on welfare of individual enterprises, meaning that actors attempt to maximize their own interests while neglecting others'. While this might hold true during stable conditions, a different managerial and social logic seems to prevail during catastrophic crises as the ones the author investigates, where leaders cannot be held accountable for the critical situation. Bhattarai's empirical analysis shows a shift in orientation and practice from the principle of self-maintenance and cost minimization to the development of empathic interdependence in and between the managerial levels in order to ensure collective security by surplus-production, that subsequently functions as immunity of the industry. The paper demonstrates that collaboration, is thus not only a negotiation between two parties. Rather, it is embedded in cultural conditions, constraints and practices; it works with the aim of improving. …

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