Socio-Informatics, Grounded Design and Design Case Studies

Information and communications technology (ICT) pervades most aspects of our lives and changes everyday’s practices in work and leisure time. When designing innovative ICTs, we need to engage with given practices, institutional arrangements, and technological infrastructures. Therefore, we suggest a socio-informatics design and research perspective that grounds the research framework used at the University of Siegen. I will introduce Grounded Design – a particular design research approach rooted in a practice-theoretical tradition. It assesses the quality of IT design through evaluation of emerging changes in social practices which result from the appropriation and use of IT artefacts. Grounded Design is applied in case studies where we reconstruct the social practices observed before and during the design and appropriation of innovative IT artifacts. We call these context-specific research endeavors ‘design case studies’. In conducting these case studies, Grounded Design builds upon well-established research methods such as ethnographical field studies, participatory design, and action research. To support the transferability of its situated findings, Grounded Design suggests documenting increasing numbers of design case studies to create an extended, comparative knowledge base. Comparing cases allows for the emergence of bottom-up concepts dealing with the design and appropriation of innovative IT artifacts in social practice.