On Missed Beginnings

Lisa Wood and Monika Büscher, Lancaster University


Using a video camera as part of ethnographic workplace studies does not make it possible to ‘capture’ the social organisation of work in a particular setting. Although the camera can record activities in the workplace, it only records images. Moreover, however strategically placed, its frame of view will exclude the past, the what happened before it was turned on, things outside its frame, words spoken at the other end of a telephone, things seen on a screen, or hidden behind someone’s head or hand. To borrow a term from emergency response, situation awareness of situated action is hard to achieve. This lack of video - if we want to call it that - is exacerbated when we’re not engaged in workplace studies, but studies of work, and especially when that work is mobile. In this paper we explore some affordances of video for ethnographic studies of work through a preliminary analysis of a 15 minute sequence from a 2012 emergency response exercise in the UK, aiming to train responders’ understanding and use of command structures during a major incident. ...



Proceedings of the Workshop and International Conference on Video Analysis,

Bayreuth, Germany, 5-6 July 2012.

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