Learning to cope with non-discretionary use of digital technologies

  The thesis describes an investigation into how people learn to cope with non-discretionary use of digital technologies. This includes circumstances when a prospective technology consumer is not presented with the choice whether or not to engage, or the choice comes with negative consequences that outweigh his or her reluctance to interact with the system.
The thesis aims to develop an engaged, first hand, context dependent account of this phenomenon, by adopting phenomenology to understand subjective meanings and individual outlooks of the people involved. Ethnographic investigations are used to understand peoples’ everyday practices, and hermeneutics is applied as a means of interpretation. The research employed qualitative methods of data gathering that enabled an involved investigation, as well as Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, content analysis and thematic analysis, to make sense of gathered information.
Two major empirical studies were carried out in order to investigate the phenomena surrounding people coping with non-discretionary use of digital technologies. Students Coping with Obligatory University Technologies (SCOUT), was an ethnographic account of 75 undergraduates, learning to use business simulation software. “Coping in the Wild” was a bricolage involving three different methods, including a longitudinal ethnographical study of a novice user, an extensive semi-structured interview with a self-proclaimed technology “expert” and lastly, a thematic analysis of user generated online resources.
The final outcome of the thesis is a model of how people learn to cope with non-discretionary use of digital technologies. The model consists of main components (Conditions, Actions and Attitudes) and associated themes (Thrownness, Praxis, Motivation and Social Aspects). The relationships between different components and themes results in number of strategies employed by the users.
The thesis concludes with areas of further work that could be undertaken based on this model of coping.

  • Dates:

    0 to 2016

  • Qualification:

    Doctorate (PhD Computing)

Project Team