A Practical Sense of Knowing: Exploring Awareness Strategies in a Mobile Workplace
This paper presents and discusses strategies used by homecare workers to establish and maintain awareness in a mobile workplace. It capitalizes on data derived from a longitudinal translocal ethnographic study of homecare and the utilization of mobile technology. The study exposes two distinct dimensions of the work context, denoted the Case and Base dimensions, which are used as vehicles to describe situations of collaborative practice that occur (1) in a coordination meeting, (2) on a homecare visit, and (3) in an on-the-fly ‘illicit’ use of mobile technology. We propose a new conception of collaborative awareness as a ‘practical sense of knowing’. Findings from the ethnographic study are consistent with a well-worn distinction between “knowing that”, declarative knowledge, and “knowing how”, procedural knowledge. Conventional structures of organizational control, encoded both procedurally and as declarations of responsibility, are routinely broken and reformed. This happens as workers devise new strategies in order to maintain the keen sense of their collaborative situation required to sustain an orderly workplace.