‘All the good spots are already taken’: the visual properties of interior social sceneries

Jakub Mlynář, H. Verma, Hamed S. Alavi, Denis Lalanne

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This article provides an ethnomethodologically informed ethnographic investigation of visually recognisable aspects of shared work spots in co-working office rooms. We focus on the phenomenon of holding a place in such environments, and document the participants’ practices which constitute distinguishing between empty and taken places. Our investigation leads to a conceptualisation of designed andad hocplaces, noting that objective assessments of rooms’ occupation status are problematic. We propose the notion of markers of presence, i.e. the material objects and their configurations, which participants use to indicate to others that a certain place is taken. Finally, we identify an observation area within the office space which participants recurrently use to assess the availability of work spots. We conclude by pointing out that rather than being tied to static features of material objects, the evidently visible occupational status of shared work spots is dynamically re-produced in participants’ ongoing courses of action.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalVisual Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project https://www.openaccess.nl/en/you-share-we-take-care Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


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