Method

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Many road users conduct different forms of work as they drive along the roads.

This is severely constrained by the activity of being in traffic. As with many other

studies “making co-operative work visible” (Crabtree, 2003), we have adopted

ethnographic methods to study how mobile-workers “put together” their work

and organization. Ethnography was originally developed within the area of

anthropology and sociology as a method to gain insight into the cultural

practices of societies (Prus, 1996). In addition to interviews, ethnography

relies on observations where the researcher follows the work process as it

unfolds. The activity of being in traffic poses challenges also for the researcher

when observing collaborative work. For example, the informants move around

while being studied. Hence, the ethnographer has to participate in the vehicles.

Some of the methodological problems are general for research on mobile

activities (see, e.g., Weilenman, 2003).

We have studied two occupational groups as they travel through their environment,

conducting their everyday tasks (Juhlin & Vesterlind, 2001; Esbjörnsson

& Juhlin, 2002). In the winter of 1999-2000, we followed the bus drivers for

three weeks, sitting in the front seat on the right side of the driver. In a similar

manner, we participated in the road inspectors’ daily work, during two weeks,

in the summer of 2000. We took extensive field notes, which were transcribed.

The transcriptions were analyzed, and a set of themes was identified. A few

themes and representative sequences are presented in this chapter.