British Journal of Social Psychology

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Volume 47 Issue 4 (December 2008), Pages 557-780

Producing expertise and achieving attribution in the context of computer support (pages 727-762)

This study uses transcripts of interactions recorded between computer technicians and users to investigate the activities related to attribution and problem solving in the context of institutional computer support. We explore how achieving consensual attributions (in the context of diagnosis) is integral to managing moment‐to‐moment social demands, and how the outcomes are subject to negotiations about the definition of the problem and the nature of the social contract between interactants. We also show that these immediate interactional interests are subject to the longer‐term ‘moral careers’ of the participants which are themselves subject to the roles, obligations, and concerns that participants have by virtue of their social and institutional positions. These immediate and longer‐term layers of concern are interrelated and contingent, and all are important elements of how consensual attributions are socially accomplished in this context.

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