Collaborative Work

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Among researchers focusing on mobile work, the physical space that one, while

mobile, passes through have become somewhat ignored. As when Urry (2000)

writes that the road users are seated in “a place of dwelling that insulates them

from the environment that they pass through… The environment beyond the

windscreen is an alien other, to be kept at bay” (p. 63). This is not the case in

the field of architecture and city planning. In writings by, e.g., Lynch (1990),

Appleyard et al. (1964) and Venturi et al. (1977), the visual qualities of roads,

roadsides and buildings along the roads are taken into serious consideration. By

conducting field trials, where the researcher and the subjects walked a predefined

tour around a block, the conversations and a follow-up interview was

recorded and analyzed. Lynch (1990) found that:

“there was apparently a drive to organize the environmental

impressions into meaningful patterns… Since the city environment

is complex and fluid, this is a difficult operation… Certain elements

seem particularly important in furnishing distinctions for

area classifications in the city, such as people and activity; land

use; and general physical form, spatial form in particular” (p 198-

199).

The environment perceived through motion is organized into meaningful patterns

that are not only cognitive, but also interactional. “Cognition is an

individual process but its concepts are social creations. We learn to see as we

communicate with other people” (Lynch, 1990, p. 233). The communication

and use of locations, as one pass them, is thus part of the social character of

work. Even the conversations on places involve a level of membership analysis

(Schegloff, 1972). Thus:

“The diverse ways in which different groups see the same place

are important… from similarities in the nature of the social

relations within groups which at first glance may seem wildly

dissimilar. Similarities of cognition are particularly useful… They

are essential if people are to communicate and cooperate with one

another” (Lynch, 1990, p. 236).

In the continuation of the chapter we elaborate on how the mobile workers have

a workplace, which is wider than the confinement of the vehicle. Further, we

discuss how the roadside beyond the windscreen plays an important part in the

interaction between mobile workgroups (Juhlin & Vesterlind, 2001; Esbjörnsson

& Juhlin, 2002).