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Towards Theory Building in Facility Programming: a Methodological Analysis of Human Activity

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Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Social Sciences

Abstract

"There are numerous models of "activity" developed in the social sciences, in a variety of different domains. These models are created for pure academic pursuits or for the needs of management, marketing, social work, education. These conceptualizations include predominantly the socio_normative nature of human action. They are less relevant to the study of the sociospatial interactions. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a perspective on human activity which can facilitate the analysis of its elements and structures relevant to the built environment. The main thesis is that the study of activity in respect to built environment should consider both social and spatial elements. The analysis should focus on the structures of activity that include both the necessary conditions as well as the undesirable influences (impediments and restrictions) in respect to facilitating and sustaining the activity processes. Structures of this type emerge as a result of the social interaction in and with the physical environment. From this perspective the sociospatial relations of people and activities are constituted on the grounds of the conditions necessary for effective performance. The paper consists of three sections: The first section presents several abstract conceptualizations of activity. They are intended to provide a general direction for choosing activity models that have a potential for guiding sociospatial research. In the second section of the paper, selected activity models are analyzed in brief. The purpose of that part is to discover theoretical resources that are instrumental for construing the sociospatial structures of activities. In the third section, the spatial relations of agents and activities are discussed. The analysis is focused on the dimensions of activities that are most deeply influenced by the availability of spatial resources and the configuration of spatial structures. This viewpoint establishes the grounds for a "conditions and resources" perspective to activity. This perspective is intended as a methodological approach to the study of activity in facility programming and to provide guidance for formulating the information gathering tasks."

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