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What is Situationism

Handbook of Research on Urban Informatics: The Practice and Promise of the Real-Time City
The Situationists were a group of avant-garde artists, radicals, and intellectuals active in Europe particularly in the late 1950s and 1960s. Situationism argued that the conditions of contemporary capitalism had rendered people passive subjects whose relationship to their own experience was one of the consumption of daily life as spectacle. Urban life was a particular example of a domain in which they sought to revolutionize the experience of everyday life by encouraging people to become conscious, active participants in the reality that their everyday actions produced.
Published in Chapter:
Urbane-ing the City: Examining and Refining the Assumptions Behind Urban Informatics
Amanda Williams (University of California, Irvine, USA), Erica Robles (Stanford University, USA), and Paul Dourish (University of California, Irvine, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-152-0.ch001
This chapter critically examines the notion of “the city” within urban informatics. Arguing that there is an overarching tendency to construe the city as an economically and spatially distinct social form, we review a series of system designs manifesting this assumption. Systematically characterizing the city as a dense ecology of impersonal social interactions occurring within recognizably public places, this construction can be traced to turn-of-the-century scholarship about the metropolis. The idealized dweller of these spaces, the flâneur, functions as the prototypical user for urban computing technologies. This assumption constrains the domain of application for emergent technologies by narrowing our conception of the urban experience. Drawing on contemporary urban scholarship, we advocate an alternative perspective which foregrounds the experience rather than the form of the metropolis. Users become actors embedded in global networks of mobile people, goods, and information, positioned in a fundamentally heterogeneous and splintered milieu. Grounding this approach in a preliminary study of mobility practices in Bangkok, Thailand, we illustrate how urban informatics might refine its subject, accounting for local particularities between cities as well as the broader global networks of connection between these sites.
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Social Psychology and Instructional Technology
Situationism is the theory that situations are a major determinant of individual behavior.
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