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Experiencing Gendered Work Life Dilemmas Through Virtual Reality
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Department of Geography, Media and Communication (from 2013).
Research Department, Church of Sweden, Uppsala.
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper presents the finding and learning outcomes from a practice-based exploratory study investigating how immersive experiences in Virtual Reality (VR) environments can communicate awareness of structural gender inequality. Studies within organizational change show that working with real life stories in familiar situations is more likely to make individuals understand and change their attitude towards gender inequality. However, most organizations lack time, knowledge, and experience in conducting such work. We also know that for long-term organizational change, these issues need to be addressed over time, rather as one-time events. This suggests that to boost awareness and change attitudes to gender inequality in organizations, there is a need to explore different forms of representations that can emotionally engage individuals, represent subtle everyday situations and be used over time.

 

Virtual Reality has the potential to offer engagement as they are immersive: individuals react to virtual situations and events as if they were real. Studies show that VR environments can evoke emotional responses from users even though the visual representation is not an exact copy of a real environment. Features that allow for experiences of immersion are: presence (being within the represented space), interactivity (responding to the actions by the user) and plausibility (representations are reasonable in relation to what is conveyed). Even though VR-technology has this potential the design of the interface is essential. This raises the following research questions: What types of stories function within such environments? How should stories be represented to evoke engagement in Virtual Reality? In addition, if a person feels intimidated or forced into a situation, they are less likely learn. What type of design allow users to feel immersed without overstepping their personal boundaries? To examine these issues, we put together an interdisciplinary team of interactive storytellers, VR-developers and researchers to develop and test an immersive VR-environment. 

 

The material used in the VR-environment originates from a research based method developed specifically to work with issues of gender inequality in work places. It uses real life scenarios of gendered work life dilemmas abstracted from anonymous qualitative research interviews. Three different scenarios were developed to be able to investigate experience in relation to immersion, emotion, presence, interactivity and plausibility. The VR-environment was then tested by educated discussants with extended experiences in the method, followed by individual interviews and a group discussion. The study show that the scenarios conveyed plausibility and that users felt immersed and present, especially when addressed by someone in the environment and when using real film-footage. Interactivity ad to the experience of immersion when relating to body movement, however frustrating and insufficient when users are to be engaged in the scenario. However, a central learning outcome was that limitations of interactivity, experience of presence and plausibility can be beneficial. Using these limitations within the design can effectively convey frustration, go beyond stereotypical settings and ensure not to trespass personal boundaries. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
Media and Communications
Research subject
Media and Communication Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-70525OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-70525DiVA, id: diva2:1271660
Conference
ECREA, the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC), "Centres and Peripheries: Communication, Research, Translation", October 31 - November 3, 2018, Lugano, Switzerland
Available from: 2018-12-17 Created: 2018-12-17 Last updated: 2019-04-25Bibliographically approved

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Ryan Bengtsson, Linda

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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Language
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More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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