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Reshaping practice across media: material mediation, medium specificity and practical knowledge in judicial work

By G. F. Lanzara


Material mediation and medium specificity are constitutive dimensions of a practice, having critical implications for the constitution of practical knowledge and the forms of institutionalization. This article explores their critical importance in a bureaucratized professional setting. Based on research findings from an in-depth study of the introduction of video-recording technology in criminal courts, the article investigates what happens in a practice when practitioners migrate to a different medium to perform their work. The findings indicate that when the practice is characterized by high medium specificity, the new medium may cause disruption in the domain of expertise, affecting the familiar objects, tools, routines and representations of the practice. In their efforts to make sense of the new medium and integrate the new work tool, practitioners reshape their practice by directly engaging with the medium and questioning the grounds of their domain of expertise. The article discusses the phenomenology of disruption and redesign, draws implications for judicial work and, more broadly, contributes to an understanding of how practices and practical knowledge are entangled with material mediation

Topics: HE Transportation and Communications, K Law (General)
Publisher: Sage Publications in association with European Group for Organizational Studies
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1177/0170840609349873
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online
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