We live in a world where social interaction is increasinglymediated by technological devices. In this book, Ian Hutchbyexplores the impact these technologies have on our attempts tocommunicate. Focusing on four examples – telephones, computerizedexpert systems at work, speech-based systems dealing with enquiriesfrom the public, and multi-user spaces on the Internet – Hutchbyasks: are we increasingly technologized conversationalists, or istechnology increasingly conversationalized?
Conversation and Technology draws on recent theory and empiricalresearch in conversation analysis, ethnomethodology and the socialconstruction of technology. In novel contributions to each of theseareas, Hutchby argues that the ways in which we interact can beprofoundly shaped by technological media, while at the same time weourselves are shapers of both the cultural and interactionalproperties of these technologies.
The book begins by examining a variety of theoretical perspectiveson this issue. Hutchby offers a critical appraisal of recentsociological thinking, which has tended to over-estimate society’sinfluence on technological development. Instead he calls for a newappreciation of the relationship between human communication andtechnology. Using a range of case studies to illustrate hisargument, Hutchby explores the multiplicity of ways in whichtechnology affects our ordinary conversational practices.
Readers in areas as diverse as sociology, communication studies,psychology, computer science and management studies will find muchof interest in this account of the human and communicativeproperties of various forms of modern communication technology.