Arbetsliv – i ljuset av ingripandets kunskapsteori
Doktorsavhandling, 2008

Abstract Worklife – viewed through the lens of an interventionist theory of knowledge Bertil Gustafsson Innovative Design - The Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, 2008. The dissertation clarifies the possibilities of changing Swedish working life in tune with a socially and environmentally sustainable society by articulating a view of knowledge and ethics. The labour movement’s vision of work is brought to the fore and development of relevant criteria are proposed. The work is based on a series of case studies relating to Swedish industry with particular reference to design processes wherein the introduction of new technology combines with the development of both occupational skills and new modes organizing of activities in the workplace. The thesis is ideographic in the sense that it fixes on differences and unique aspects rather than similarities and repeated patterns of relationships in the phenomena under scrutiny. The case studies entail a form of action re-search since the investigator himself has actively participated in the development and shaping of the new solutions recorded. The case studies engender a critical take on the philosophical and social science discussions concerning development, economics, technology, environment and worklife research. An epistemological analysis serves as a basis for the reasoning presented in this thesis. Philosophical and science-theory texts as well as recent advances in the neurosciences informs the critique of the Western tradition’s tendency to dichotomize practical and theoretical forms of knowledge. A new series of knowledge categories for worklife is presented in the form of a tentative matrix model. In it is underlined the close connection between knowledge, feelings and human values. Judiciousness with its roots in private experiences of the individual, life conditions (what Habermas calls the life world), and cultural considerations are emphasized as both personal and shared aspects of knowledge – values are taken to be cultivated in social relations and become objectified through actions. Technology assessments and ethical committees in workplaces are advocated as important sites for broadening and deepening the employees’ knowledge, cons-ciousness and sense of responsibility. Suggestions for new platforms and new forms of creative learning and humanistic development are also proposed. The discussion takes its point of departure in theoretical research on design as well as feminist research (standpoint theory) on the one hand, and on the other hand the opportunities for developing alternative future scenarios offered by computer technology, stimulating a deeper democratic process and a more judicious mode of volition in society. (In this respect SCOT – Social COnstruction of Technology – is relevant.) Emphasis is on the importance of rendering values visible and anchoring them in our humanly created world while upholding tensions and different viewpoints and maintaining critical distance. Language: Swedish. The dissertation contains an extended Summary in English.

Theory of knowledge

Keywords: The Good Work


Action Research

Participant Design.



VR-salen, Sven Hultins gata 6, Chalmers campus Johanneberg, Göteborg
Opponent: Professor Jan Bärmark, Institutionen för idéhistoria och vetenskapsteori vid Göteborgs Universitet


Bertil Gustafsson

Chalmers, Arkitektur



Produktionsteknik, arbetsvetenskap och ergonomi


Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 2787

Publikation - Chalmers tekniska högskola, Sektionen för arkitektur: 2008:04

VR-salen, Sven Hultins gata 6, Chalmers campus Johanneberg, Göteborg

Opponent: Professor Jan Bärmark, Institutionen för idéhistoria och vetenskapsteori vid Göteborgs Universitet

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