Organizational affordances: a structuration theory approach to affordances

Dhaval Vyas, Cristina M. Chisalita, Alan Dix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
345 Downloads (Pure)


Affordance is an important concept in the field of human–computer interaction. There are various interpretations of affordances, often extending the original notion of James J. Gibson. Often the treatment of affordances in the current human–computer interaction literature has been a one-to-one relationship between a user and an artefact. We believe that the social and cultural contexts within which an artefact is situated affect the way in which the artefact is used and the notion of affordance needs to be seen as a dynamic, always emerging relationship between people and their environment. Using a Structuration Theory approach, we conceptualize the notion of affordance at a much broader level, encompassing social and cultural aspects. We suggest that affordances should be seen at three levels: single user, organizational (or work group) and societal. Focusing on the organizational level affordances, we provide details of several important factors that affect the emergence of affordances.

This article provides a new perspective on the discourse of affordance with the use of Structuration Theory.

It shows how affordance can be understood as ‘use’ in situated practices (i.e. ‘technology-in-practice’)

The Structuration Theory approach to affordances is showcased using two case studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInteracting with Computers
Early online date4 May 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2016


  • affordance
  • HCI
  • structuration theory
  • design
  • artefact


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