New Perspectives on Plans: Studying Planning as an Instance of Instructed Action
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of the concrete ways in which planning is done in and through a set of material artifacts, demonstrating that the artifacts themselves, and the information they contain, constitute a set of ongoing instructions, in Garfinkel’s ( 2002 ) sense, which enable the artful reproduction of planfuness. Through the use of an empirical case, the paper shows how the material objects that are deployed in a ground control tower, the different forms of information that are available and the way in which this information is updated and re-deployed, can be seen as constituting a set of instructions which are reflexively available to skilled operators. Thus the paper re-focuses attention to the dynamic quality of information flows, to show how plans are not simply something that pre-dates action, cognitively or otherwise, but are something that are reflexively engaged with in and through the monitoring and use of information. The paper wants to provide for a different emphasis, one which focuses attention not only on the skillful work done by operators, but as much on the information they use and the artifacts where that information is to be found.