Sense-Making/Sensemaking

Mei Chun Louisa LAM*, Christine URQUHART, Dervin L. BRENDA

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook Chapter

Abstract

Sense-making/sensemaking are terms commonly understood as the processes through which people interpret and give meaning to their experiences. The two different terms are used deliberately by their authors with their spelling variations in different academic discourse communities that share some common thrusts. The terms originally focused on the five senses but have expanded in meaning to cover physical, emotional, spiritual, and intuitional responses posited as involved in human sense-makings of their worlds, both internal and external. Since the 1970s, sense-making/sensemaking has been used by researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, with significant applications in the fields of human-computer interaction (HCI), cognitive systems engineering, knowledge management, communication studies, and library/information science (human information behavior). At the highest level of abstraction, the differences in the underlying theories used by researchers can best be understood in tensions between cognitivist and constructivist strands and the focus on either a micro or macro framework. However, because the different streams of attention differ in so many ways (e.g., context, informants, methods, intended audiences, etc.), comparisons are not possible beyond those presented briefly here. It is necessary to understand the historical origins, philosophical assumptions, and methodological roots of five major research approaches labeled as sense-making or sensemaking: Dervin’s sense-making in user studies, human information behavior; Weick’s sensemaking in organizational communication; Snowden’s organizational sense-making in knowledge management; Russell’s sensemaking in HCI; and Klein’s sensemaking in cognitive systems engineering. Applications of the approaches, emerging perspectives, and uses are reviewed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies in Communication
EditorsPatricia MOY
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199756841
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • sense-making
  • communication

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  • Cite this

    LAM, M. C. L., URQUHART, C., & BRENDA, D. L. (2016). Sense-Making/Sensemaking. In P. MOY (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Communication Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756841-0112