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Lucy Suchman

Lucy Suchman
Lucy Suchman
Nationality British
Occupation Professor, anthropologist
Employer Lancaster University
Known for Human–computer interaction
Website //31/profiles/sociology/

Lucy Suchman, PhD is a Professor of Anthropology of Science and Technology in the Department of Sociology at Lancaster University, in the United Kingdom.[1] She has taught several courses including Virtual Cultures, Anthropology of Cybercultures, and Gender, Sexuality and Society. These courses included instruction on new forms of information and communications media, the quality of digital artefacts, and issues concerning feminists in media research.[2] Before coming to Lancaster, she worked for 22 years at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center, where she held the positions of Principal Scientist and Manager of the Work Practice and Technology laboratory.[1][3] Suchman is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, obtaining her BA in 1972, MA in 1977 and a Doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology in 1984.[2]


  • Research 1
  • Professional affiliations 2
  • Publications 3
  • Awards 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Suchman's book, Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-machine Communication (1987), provided intellectual foundations for the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). She challenged common assumptions behind the design of interactive systems with a cogent anthropological argument that human action is constantly constructed and reconstructed from dynamic interactions with the material and social worlds. The theory of situated cognition emphasises the importance of the environment as an integral part of the cognitive process. She has made fundamental contributions to ethnographic analysis, conversational analysis and Participatory Design techniques for the development of interactive computer systems.[2][4]

An updated version of the book was published in 2007. This second edition, called Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Action, included five new chapters exploring developments in the field of computing and social studies technology since the mid-1980s.[2] Specifically, Suchman addressed the relationship and interactions between humans and machines with a focus on the new humanlike machines.[5]

Lucy Suchman's research focus is on ethnographies behind technology and how technology has led to re-thinking of the relationship between feminist theory, anthropology and science.[6]

Professional affiliations

In 1988, Suchman served as the Program Chair for the Second Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work.[2] She also served as the Program Chair for the first Conference on Participatory Design of Computer Systems.[2] Between 1982 and 1990, Suchman was on the board of directors of the Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, a group she helped to form.[2] Suchman is currently a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control.[2] In addition, she serves as a Collaborating Editor for Social Studies of Science.[2]

Suchman is also affiliated with numerous academic institutions. She has served as a Visiting Senior Research Fellow with King's College London's Work, Interaction and Technology Research Group and as an Adjunct Professor for the Interaction Design and Work Practice Laboratory at Sydney's University of Technology.[2] Suchman currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at the Information Technology University in Copenhagen, Denmark.[2]


  • Suchman, L. (1987) Plans and situated actions : The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge University Press, New York.
  • Suchman, L. (1993) Response to Vera and Simon's Situated Action: A Symbolic Interpretation. Cognitive Science, 17:71—75, 1993.
  • Suchman, L. (1995) Making Work Visible. Communications of the ACM, 38 (9). pp. 56–61+.
  • Suchman, L. (1995) Representations of Work (Special Report). Communications of the ACM, 38 (9). pp. 33–68.
  • Suchman, L. and Blomberg, J. and Orr, J. E. (1999) Reconstructing Technologies as Social Practice. The American Behavioral Scientist, 43 (3). pp. 392–408.
  • Suchman, L. (2000) Embodied Practices of Engineering Work. Mind, Culture and Activity, 7 (1&2). pp. 4–18.
  • Suchman, L. (October 2000) Located Accountabilities in Technology Production Paper presented at the Sawyer Seminar on Heterarchies, Santa Fe Institute.
  • Suchman, L. (2000) Making a case: knowledge and routine work in document production. In: Workplace studies : recovering work practice and informing system design. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 29–45.
  • Suchman, L. (2000) Organising alignment : a case of bridge-building. Organization, 7 (2). pp. 311–327.
  • Suchman, L. and Bishop, L. (2000) Problematizing 'Innovation' as a Critical Project. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management, 12 (3). pp. 327–333.
  • Suchman, L. (2002) Practice-based design of information systems : notes from the hyperdeveloped world. The Information Society, 18 (2). pp. 139–144.
  • Suchman, L. A. and Blomberg, J. and Trigg, R. (2002) Working Artefacts: Ethnomethods of the prototype. British Journal of Sociology, 53 (2). pp. 163–179.
  • Suchman, L. (2003) Figuring service in discourses of ICT: the case of software agent. In: Global and Organizational Discourses about Information Technology. International Federation for Information Processing . Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 15–32.
  • Suchman, L. (2003) Organising alignment. In: Knowing in organisations : a practice-based approach. M. E. Sharpe, London, pp. 187–203.
  • Suchman, L. (2004) Decentring the manager/designer. In: Managing as designing. Stanford Business Books, Stanford, pp. 169–73.
  • Suchman, L. (2004) Methods and madness. In: First person : new media as story, performance, and game. MIT Press, London, pp. 95–98.
  • Suchman, L. (2004) Talking things. In: First person : new media as story, performance, and game. MIT Press, London, pp. 262–265.
  • Suchman, L. (2005) Affiliative Objects. Organization, 12 (3). pp. 379–399.
  • Suchman, L. (2006) "Wajcman confronts cyberfeminism." Social Studies of Science.
  • Suchman, L. (February 2007) Anthropology as 'Brand': Reflections on Corporate Anthropology. Paper presented at the Colloquium on Interdisciplinarity and Society, Oxford University.
  • Suchman, L. (2007) Feminist STS and the Sciences of the Artificial. In: New Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. MIT Press.
  • Suchman, L. (2007) Human-Machine Reconfigurations. Cambridge University Press, New York.
  • Suchman, L. (2011) "Practice and its overflows: Reflections on order and mess." TECNOSCIENZA: Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 2(1):21–30.
  • Suchman, L. (2011) "Anthropological Relocations and the Limits of Design." Annual Review of Anthropology, 40: 1–18.
  • Suchman, L. (2011) "Subject Objects." Feminist Theory, 12 (2): 119–145


See also


  1. ^ a b Adelson, Beth (2003). "Bringing considerations of situated action to bear on the paradigm of cognitive modeling: the 2002 Benjamin Franklin Medal in computer and cognitive science presented to Lucy Suchman". Journal of the Franklin Institute 340: 290.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Professor Lucy Suchman". Lancaster University. 
  3. ^ "Agencies at the Interface: Colloquium with Lucy Suchman". MIT Media Lab. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Suchman, Lucy (1987). Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-machine Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 203. 
  5. ^ Suchman, Lucy (2007). Human-machine reconfigurations : plans and situated actions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 314. 
  6. ^ "Invited Speakers". OOPSLA Conference. 
  7. ^ "2010 SIGCHI Awards". SIGCHI. 
  8. ^ Professor Lucy Suchman to be made Honorary Doctor Malmö University
  9. ^ "Bernal Prize". Society for Social Studies of Science. Retrieved 9 October 2014. 

External links

  • A 1999 Interview
  • A 2002 Video Interview
  • A 2011 lecture given at Medea, Malmö University
  • Consuming Anthropology, Methods@Manchester Seminar
Preceded by
Marvin Minsky
Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science
Succeeded by
John McCarthy (computer scientist)
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