Nexus analysis in inter/transdisciplinary HCI and IS research
We have been doing inter/transdisciplinary research and teaching here in University of Oulu already for ten years (and have a long history of collaboratio before that), mostly under the umbrella of EveLINE research group. A glue in our studies is a research strategy of 'nexus analysis' (Scollon & Scollon 2004).
Nexus analysis is rather young; it has its roots in the field of language studies but it is interdisciplinary in nature and focuses on social action. It combines different research approaches in a sequence of steps from engaging, navigating and changing (e.g. ethnography, interaction analysis, and qualitative study of different types), allowing the study of phenomena as they unfold in social (inter)action in situ, but inherently bound in their historical trajectories across multiple timescales. It involves a participatory stance in the researcher stepping into the community itself and is very well suited for studies where researchers intend for change and work actively with the research subjects.
Nexus analysis has been applied on many different disciplinary fields but as perspectives and research interests differ, researchers choose their methods and analysis foci accordingly. Described here is one way to employ nexus analysis, as we see it to fit, e.g., IS and HCI fields and suitable for both our inter/transdisciplinary collaboration Most of our studies are interdisciplinary, combining expertise and understanding from IS and HCI fields (INTERACT group) as well as pedagogy and study of language and communication (COACT group) or organizational studies (both our long-term research partners). For an analysis of our working within EveLINE research group, see this paper.
Use of nexus analytic concepts in data analysis
If you are interested in nexus analysis in general and want to understand better how and why we apply it in our research, read the following paper:
- Molin-Juustila, T. Kinnula, M., Iivari, N., Kuure, L., Halkola, E. (2015) Multiple voices in participatory ICT design with children. Behaviour & Information Technology, 34(11), 1079-1091. - In this paper we discuss how nexus analytic concepts of discourses in place, historical body, and interaction order can be utilised in strengthening and deepening analyses of qualitative data, even without using nexus analysis as a research framework.
Discourses survey as a research method
One of the research strategies nexus analysis offers is a 'discourses survey', i.e., a search for the public discourses on a certain topic, as pictured in media. The following papers exemplify how we have used this method to understand better the phenomena we study. The studies are different regarding the time frame of data collection and thus are good examples of how the same method, used quite similarly, can be utilized to understand either current situation or processes spanning longer trajectories of time:
- Hartikainen, H., Iivari, N. & Kinnula, M. (2016): Should We Design for Control, Trust or Involvement? A Discourses Survey about Children's Online Safety. IDC2016, Manchester UK. - In this paper we use discourses survey to find out what are the public discourses circulating in media concerning children's online safety, and whose voices are most prominent in the discourses. In this study the data has been collected during couple of months and analysed for the purposes of a starting research project.
- Luoma, P., Kinnula, M., Kuure, L., Halkola, E., Riekki, M. (2016) The planning and building of a new residential community: A discourses survey. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies.Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 5-27 pdf - In this paper we look at community planning and emergence of a new technology-rich school in a residential area, trying to understand how the public discourses change in the different phases of community planning and building process and who are the actors whose voices we hear. Data for this study was collected during couple of years, to get a longitudinal view to the process.
Utilising the nexus analytic concepts of discourses in place, historical body and interaction order
A very typical way of how we use nexus analysis to approach an interesting topic is that we use the concepts of discourses in place, interaction order and historical body to sensitize us to understand better what is going on in certain social action. In the following papers this approach has been used for analysing varying topics:
- Kinnula, M., Laari-Salmela, S., Iivari, N. (2015) Mundane or magical? Discourses of technology adoption in Finnish schools. European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). Paper 102. May 26-29, 2015, Münster, Germany. - In this paper discourse analysis is in focus and historical body and interaction order have been used to explain what may be behind the discourses.
- Iivari, N., Kinnula, M., Molin-Juustila, T., Kuure, L. (2017) Multiple Voices in the Maker Movement – A Nexus Analytic literature Review on children, education and Making. European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS). June 6-10, 2017, Guimarães, Portugal. - In this paper we use nexus analytic concepts to structure our literature review where the social action in focus is 'making with children'. We study what are the academic discourses on this social action and how researchers in their studies take into account historical body and interaction order -related issues.
Using nexus analysis to study phenomena on different levels
Nexus analysis extends the researcher's perspective to study phenomena on both micro and macro level. Following papers show this variety:
- Iivari, N., Kinnula, M., Kuure, L., Molin-Juustila, T. (2014) Video Diary as a Means for Data Gathering with Children - Encountering Identities in the Making. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 72, No. 5, p. 507-521. - In this study we dig very deep in the data, to the micro-level, studying video diaries produced by children, with length of tens of seconds, and use nexus analysis to shed light in very simple-looking video data, analysing different subject positions children take when creating their videos and genres they invoke in the making process. Through nexus analysis it was possible to open up the situations of video diary production as a social action involving various participants with their roles in the action (interaction order, historical body) and the discourses cycling within that scene (discourses in place). In addition to gaining some pieces of facts of children’s technology use, we gained in-depth understandings on how the children approached the task and used the method in question.
- Halkola, Eija, Iivari, Netta & Kuure, Leena (2015): Infrastructuring as Social Action. In the Proceedings on International Conference on Information Systems ICIS2015. - In this study, on the other hand, a large-scale infrastructuring effort with sub-projects and a multitude of actors has been studied as a social action, delving into multi-sitedness, multi-vocalities, and political aspects of infrastructuring through the concept of interaction order.