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Conference papers

How information becomes a resource to act in an uncertain and complex world: sense making and contingency in the knowing process

Abstract : One challenge for development in the rural areas is to increase stakeholders' capacity to understand their role and to act in a more uncertain and complex world. This issue is mainly dealt with by supporting collective dynamics and enabling stakeholders to envision their various perspectives before exploring possible futures. But the question is further to support the collective action which will be needed to implement what has been identified as a desirable future. We suggest that this implies a better understanding of the knowing process and its relation to action, e.g. the way each stakeholder understands the situation, builds it as problematic and mobilizes his(her) informational environment to tackle the situation. We carried out a study to better understand the diverse ways by which farmers seek information to develop their farming projects. Our framework of analysis focuses on sense-making: how do farmers seek information and give sense to it in order to cope with a management situation they have identified as problematic? Our conceptual model, abstracted from data, suggests that: 1) sense-making is contingent upon the way the here and now situation is characterized as problematic and depends on the purposes and functions farmers assign to the informational resources mobilized to face this situation; 2) farmers assign purposes according to their own farming project based on a dual perspective: the productive activity, and the farmer's identity and capacity; 3) sense-making is backed up by a capitalization process: farmers keep trace of the informational resources which they assessed to be relevant to deal with a given situation. We will then discuss how such results could change our ways to support collective dynamics and stakeholders' capacities to act in an uncertain and complex world.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 2:46:33 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, February 24, 2022 - 11:09:29 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-02591050, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00024935


M.A. Magne, Marianne Cerf. How information becomes a resource to act in an uncertain and complex world: sense making and contingency in the knowing process. 8th European International Farming Systems Association (IFSA) Symposium, Jul 2008, Clermont-Ferrand, France. pp.18. ⟨hal-02591050⟩



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