Jenni Huhtasalo: The power of digital technology is changing expert work
Expertise has been studied by representatives of various disciplines for decades. In the social sciences, it has generally been addressed through interpersonal communication and agency. The continuous development of digital technologies and them becoming a natural part of current expert work make it necessary to take a critical look at the relationship between expertise and digital technologies.
The dissertation of Jenni Huhtasalo consists of three studies as well as a synthesis part which answers the main research question of the dissertation: which actors the actor network of the expertise is based on and how different digital technologies serve as a part of the actor network of the expertise? Huhtasalo studies this in the expert work of specialist nurses as well as teachers working at the university.
The actor network theory, which is a suitable approach for studying diverse actor networks, has been the methodological tool in the synthesis part. Through the actor network theory, Huhtasalo has re-interpreted the results of her studies. In this theory, agency is perceived as a broader concept than human agency, and therefore non-human actors, such as digital technologies, are also seen to play a key role.
Using the conceptual tools provided by the actor network theory, the dissertation provides three different stories and snapshots of actor networks of expertise and the agency of different digital technologies as part of these networks. The research is related to the discussion about the long-standing change in expert work and expertise in the field of research and makes it clear how well different actors can work together and form an ever-changing network of expertise actors. By acting as part of networks of expertise actors, digital technology changes expert work; roles, sharing expertise, experience of expertise and professional identity.
The research results broaden our comprehension of the actors involved in expertise, deepen our understanding of the relationship between digital technologies and expertise, and open our eyes to a broader reality than would be possible by following human actors.
The doctoral dissertation of M. Soc. Sc. Jenni Huhtasalo in the field of social research titled Asiantuntijuus, digitaalinen teknologia ja moniaineksiset toimijaverkostot will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Tampere University at 12 o'clock on Friday 28 January, 2022. The venue is University consortium of Pori auditorium, address: Pohjoisranta 11 A, Pori. Professor Hannu Ruonavaara from University of Turku will be the opponent while Professor Antti Saloniemi will act as the custos.
The event can be followed via remote connection
The dissertation is available online at
Photo: Via Ramstén