Authors: Potthast, Jörg
Title: Ethnography of a Paper Strip
Other Titles: The Production of Air Safety
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: Why does air traffic control still rely on paper control strips? Is paper safer? This question has been dealt with before, and responses have pointed out that "paper has helped to shape work practices, and work practices have been designed around the use of paper" (Harper & Sellen 1995: 2). The present contribution tries to further specify these claims. At first, the use of paper as a medium of representation in the course of dealing with critical situations will be discussed. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork carried out in two European Upper Area Control centres, practices linked to the puzzling persistence of the paper strip are then captured along with different types of critical situations. Extending the observation of practices to meso- and macrolevels, it can be shown that paper strips are multiply embedded. They help to stabilise cycles of practices, the permanent reproduction of which is critical to air safety.
Issue Date: 2008-07
Provenance: Technische Universität Dortmund
Appears in Collections:Issue 1

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