Unit 5 Reviewing discussion objects


It is important when looking at Evidence Cafés within the context of migration that we understand that the interpretation of any evidence is shaped by both formal and informal practices. Communication of this understanding can be supported by ‘objects’ in a joint ‘meaning making’ exercise. Social scientists and technologists have termed these ‘boundary objects’, as they help to create joint understanding between stakeholders. One important characteristic of a boundary object is that it supports communication and collaboration by acting as a link between the boundaries of different contexts and areas of understanding (Star and Griesemer, 1989). However, these objects can also produce barriers to understanding if they are not designed appropriately and contain local jargon, informal practices and unfamiliar behaviour. Boundary objects also cover a wider spectrum of technologies and approaches for sharing understanding which tends to rely upon a one-way supply of evidence. Evidence Cafés have built their understanding of boundary objects into the ‘two-way’ equitable sharing and co-creation of evidence that depict ‘discussion objects’. So, in an Evidence Café, a boundary object that supports one-way sharing across boundaries becomes a two-way discussion object. In short, boundary objects are for one-way sharing of understanding across different contexts and discussion objects are a two-way co-creation of understanding across different contexts.

5.1 Tailoring discussion objects to Evidence Cafés