chapter  3
14 Pages

The doctor and the blue form: learning professional responsibility


This chapter argues that professional engineering knowledge, or knowing, emerges in practice by engaging in action that comprises both the material and social context of the workplace. It reviews literature on intertwining of the social and the material in the engineering workplace. The chapter discusses the empirical case study, and the concept of 'sociomaterial bricolage'. It focuses on the ensemble to distinguish between the underlying factors as only by understanding the emergence of the ensemble, and its parts delves into aspects of learning practices such as the motivation for their inception and subsequent development. Practice-based theories of learning emphasize the role of the social context but only pay minimal attention to the role of the material context which is critical for engineering knowing. Specifically, engineers engage in bricolage, or tinkering, with the tools available to them to create a relatively stable, though often temporary, work environment in the face of uncertainty.