Making HCI Theory Work: An Analysis of the Use of Activity Theory in HCI Research

Torkil Clemmensen, Victor Kaptelinin, Bonnie Nardi

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper reports a study of the use of activity theory in human–computer interaction (HCI) research. We analyse activity theory in HCI since its first appearance about 25 years ago. Through an analysis and meta-synthesis of 109 selected HCI activity theory papers, we created a taxonomy of 5 different ways of using activity theory: (1) analysing unique features, principles, and problematic aspects of the theory; (2) identifying domain-specific requirements for new theoretical tools; (3) developing new conceptual accounts of issues in the field of HCI; (4) guiding and supporting empirical analyses of HCI phenomena; and (5) providing new design illustrations, claims, and guidelines. We conclude that HCI researchers are not only users of imported theory, but also theory-makers who adapt and develop theory for different purposes.
    This paper reports a study of the use of activity theory in human–computer interaction (HCI) research. We analyse activity theory in HCI since its first appearance about 25 years ago. Through an analysis and meta-synthesis of 109 selected HCI activity theory papers, we created a taxonomy of 5 different ways of using activity theory: (1) analysing unique features, principles, and problematic aspects of the theory; (2) identifying domain-specific requirements for new theoretical tools; (3) developing new conceptual accounts of issues in the field of HCI; (4) guiding and supporting empirical analyses of HCI phenomena; and (5) providing new design illustrations, claims, and guidelines. We conclude that HCI researchers are not only users of imported theory, but also theory-makers who adapt and develop theory for different purposes.
    LanguageEnglish
    JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
    Volume35
    Issue number8
    Pages608-627
    ISSN0144-929X
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2016

    Keywords

    • HCI theory
    • Activity theory
    • Theory use

    Cite this

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    Making HCI Theory Work : An Analysis of the Use of Activity Theory in HCI Research. / Clemmensen, Torkil; Kaptelinin, Victor; Nardi, Bonnie.

    In: Behaviour and Information Technology, Vol. 35, No. 8, 2016, p. 608-627.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    T2 - Behaviour and Information Technology

    AU - Clemmensen,Torkil

    AU - Kaptelinin,Victor

    AU - Nardi,Bonnie

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    AB - This paper reports a study of the use of activity theory in human–computer interaction (HCI) research. We analyse activity theory in HCI since its first appearance about 25 years ago. Through an analysis and meta-synthesis of 109 selected HCI activity theory papers, we created a taxonomy of 5 different ways of using activity theory: (1) analysing unique features, principles, and problematic aspects of the theory; (2) identifying domain-specific requirements for new theoretical tools; (3) developing new conceptual accounts of issues in the field of HCI; (4) guiding and supporting empirical analyses of HCI phenomena; and (5) providing new design illustrations, claims, and guidelines. We conclude that HCI researchers are not only users of imported theory, but also theory-makers who adapt and develop theory for different purposes.

    KW - HCI theory

    KW - Activity theory

    KW - Theory use

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