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In practice, many publications could have been considered multidisciplinary based on their contents. The summary of the analysis process is as follows: 1. Locating significant statements from the data horizonalisation 3. Finding meaning units or constituent themes from the significant statements 4. Textural description describes what was experienced 5.

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Imaginative Variation intuiting the data 6. Structural description describes how the experience took place and what affected it 7. The Essence of the Phenomenon Textural-Structural Synthesis The phenomenological process of literature analysis is explained more in-depth in the following. Bracketing The literature review began with bracketing. Moustakas described it as standing back from the way we would usually see everyday life and phenomena in it.

In the bracketing process, the researcher acknowledges his or her previous experience, attitude and beliefs, but tries to set them aside for the duration of the study to see the object of study anew Creswell Bracketing has also been suggested to contribute to a more rigorous study and better validity Tufford and Newman The bracketing process, for example journal entries, is sometimes included in the study.


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Here, a summary of the process is provided. First, the author described his own experiences and thoughts related to virtual embodiment in order to set aside assumptions and beliefs of what virtual embodiment was about. As many authors have argued, it is something that cannot be fully achieved Moustakas Still, it proved to be useful to continuously reflect on how existing conceptual constructs tried to affect the analysis and descriptions of embodiment.

The bracketing process was written down and continuously referred to during the coding and analysis process. A reflective diary Wall et al.


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  5. Bracketing was found to be an important phase as the author has over 13 years of experience in interaction and user experience design, and thus established views about the field. Significant statements The next step in the data analysis was to form a list of significant statements horizonalisation of the data that described the experience of virtual embodiment in the research literature.

    This stage of analysis resulted in establishing initial significant statement codes. As a technical detail, the format of some of the PDF articles made it difficult to maintain coherent sentences in the codes. This was not a major issue, and majority of the PDFs documents worked well. Next, the initial statements were examined one by one in order to reduce unnecessary text from around them and to give them meaning Randolph Is it possible to abstract and label it? If so, it is a horizon of the experience.

    Expressions not meeting the above requirements are eliminated. Overlapping, repetitive, and vague expressions are also eliminated or presented in more exact descriptive terms. The horizons that remain are the invariant constituents of the experience. Meaning units, also called as constituent themes, were identified from the significant statements. At this stage, node-specific memos were used in NVivo to maintain a reflecting stance towards the emerging themes. Listing clusters of significant statements under new thematic nodes proved to be useful to scaffold thinking and understanding relationships and significant aspects of different themes.

    These were aimed to describe what the experience of virtual embodiment was like. This also worked as a scaffold when beginning to write the textural description draft into another separate document. At this stage, the emerging textural description was referred back to significant statements and meaning units nodes. We imagine possible structures of time, space, materiality, causality, and relationship to self and to others. During this stage, codes were reflected back to the textural description in order to reduce them to solely describe how the experience of virtual embodiment took place.

    The essence of virtual embodiment The essence of a phenomenon is also referred to as textural-structural description or composite description Creswell It describes the experience of virtual embodiment, and how it takes place. For this final stage of analysis, coding in NVivo, personal bracketing and written textural and structural descriptions were brought together for synthesis. The results of the analysis are presented in the following. Similar to first person accounts, the constituent themes are presented with examples of significant statements. The essence description will conclude the results section.

    An active agent called the user is used to describe someone interacting in a virtual environment that may be e. The section will also give excerpts from studies that illustrate the themes. It allows proper embedding of the user in a specific context and contributes to the creation of the social context.

    Virtual embodiment in the form of an avatar presents the user to others to convey activity, affiliation, mood and personality. User embodiment concerns the provision of users with appropriate body images so as to represent them to others and also to themselves in collaborative situations. Benford et al. Biocca , 23 As a subject-body, however, the avatar is the site of social practices, such as impression management.

    Schultze , People tend to create avatars that resemble their actual selves and this enhances their psychological immersion in virtual worlds. Schultze , …affiliations are also expressed via embodiment. Avatars can become a way to opt into, or out of, a group. They can significantly signal affiliation through their color choices, bodies, accessories, and heads.

    Taylor , 46 2. Virtual embodiment allows interaction in a virtual environment Several sources identified that virtual embodiment is the interface that allows interaction in and with various kinds of virtual environments that often contextually differ from each other. Different virtual environments provide different interaction possibilities based on design choices: a virtual embodiment can do certain things, and the environment allows for certain actions. Technically, all sources implied the connection of interaction and virtual embodiment in one way or another.

    Still, only sources that directly described interaction through a virtual embodiment with a virtual environment were included under this theme. Examples of this theme include: Users make use of the affordances in the environments from which they perceive the structure of the virtual world in ways similar to manner they construct the physical world.

    Gee , A more immersive or convincing sense of embodiment within digital worlds may thus depend on experiencing a convincing, meaningful world within which the player has an elevated sense of choice and responsibility. Farrow and Iacovides , Proxy embodiment … allowing us to inhabit synthetic space through a prosthetic vehicle, a different kind of body.

    During play we are piloting, via minimal movements of our eyes and fingers, a different body in a different world. Klevjer , 36 … in order to inhabit the play space the player must organise his or her body appropriately; must take on a playing- body that is inferred by the game. Martin , 2 In virtual worlds, much like in the real world, the body is used to control the environment and bodily actions are modeled and simulated using an avatar to elicit reactions to virtual stimuli.

    Virtual reality experiences, embodiment, videogames and their dimensions in neurorehabilitation

    Further, the body is part of the context, regardless of whether we reference the real or virtual world. Mennecke et al. Virtual embodiment composes social interaction Virtual embodiment allows users to present themselves to others, and to engage in many forms of social interaction from performing together in virtual environments to having meaningful communication.

    Through communication and other kinds of shared interactions, people form specific communities and contexts. The minimum level of social presence occurs when users feel that a form, behavior, or sensory experience indicates the presence of another intelligence.

    Boelstorff , …co-presence of extended bodies, constructed out of language in the online world, is a potential basis of community just as much as physical presence. Taylor , 42 4. At the same time, virtual embodiment is a way to act multiple identities. Also under some conditions, often related to specific virtual reality technologies and experimental situations, virtual embodiment can change the sense of body or body part ownership.

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    Honey and Morgan , 66 The results show that first person perspective of a virtual body that substitutes for the own body in virtual reality, together with synchronous multisensory stimulation can temporarily produce changes in body representation towards the larger belly size. Normand et al. Puvirajah and Calandra , 25 5. Virtual embodiment is an immediate experience Many accounts reveal that under some conditions such as when technology becomes familiar or otherwise so easy to use that it is practically invisible to us, or social interaction is compelling, experience through a virtual embodiment can be very immediate.

    Users do not think about acting as their body or self in the actual world, but are directly involved in and influenced by the virtual interaction.

    Our Digital Selves: Embodiment and Place-Making in Social VR

    The players appeared to quickly enter in the role suggested by the game, here, a musician, and started to perform task related motions that were not required by the game itself. Gaming was no longer only a question of challenge; it was the experience itself that rewarded the players. Bianchi-Berthouze, Kim, and Patel , … players form an embodied relationship with the avatar in the game world through their habitual mastery of the control device in the actual world.

    I think as the avatar, from the point of view of the avatar. Crick , …when an experienced computer user plays the game World-of-Warcraft, the perceiving body extends into the game. When the player tries out a new sword that she has acquired for her game character, she perceives its behavior through the mouse and the part of the software that allows her to control her character. Taylor , 49 6. However, several accounts show that virtual embodiment challenges these notions.

    Users feel emotions such as loneliness, falling in love or new kind of freedom of self-expression that might not be possible for them in the actual world. Still, some suggest there are limits to what kinds of experiences virtual embodiment can enable: our experience of our actual body and what happens to it is different to the virtual embodiment. Boelstorff , Not only is an imitation just like the real, players using new polymodal, gesturally responsive controller technologies can, increasingly, act just like singers, guitar-players, pilots, athletes, composers, artists, and so forth, and in ways that invite players—through play—into worlds of authentic practice and competence.

    For one thing, we tend not to care too much about dying and we do not experience pain through our avatar: these phenomena are experienced as representation, not as embodied, subjective experience. Farrow and Iacovides , Movement and navigation in game space reflects their counterpart in reality.

    Game players inhabit game space in a subjective manner and bring to the game world their corporeal history. McGregor , 2 Through an IVR immersive virtual reality a person can see through the eyes and hear through the ears of a virtual body that can be seen to substitute for their own body, and our data show that people have some subjective and physiological responses as if it were their own body. Slater et al. On the design level they are affected by technological and interactional choices, and at the user level, user backgrounds.

    Still, common horizons can be identified. To tie aspects of virtual embodiment together is to try to understand many languages of different research disciplines that have examined it, and, at times, to determine if they even describe the same phenomenon. Based on the significant statements, the identified themes, and textural and structural descriptions, the essence of virtual embodiment could be described as follows: Virtual embodiment reveals the bodily nature of human-computer interaction. It emphasises the general embodied nature of human interaction, and the need for it.

    Playing Guitar Hero drums can affect bodily skills, such as the sense of rhythm and using muscles for certain movements. Virtual embodiments allow users to experience that they are actually present in social situations with other people. This induces genuine emotions. On some levels, specifically designed virtual embodiment can enable the user to experience the world as another person.

    Seamless control devices or familiarity with them can enable direct experiences. Instead of thinking of pressing a button on a game controller to move a character on the screen, users are thinking of dodging an antagonist in the virtual environment. Discussion Phenomenology aims to reveal aspects of a phenomenon. These are tied in time and space, thus always being in motion. A new horizon arises each time that one recedes.

    Various kinds of interaction, formation of communities and how we generally come to perceive the world have been earlier observed in fields such as sociology, anthropology and phenomenology. For example, when it comes to the theme of presenting our selves to others, our everyday social world has been described similar to a stage where we employ various roles and performances by dressing for them and acting through certain kinds of contextually-appropriate ways Goffman Phenomenology has recognised our bodily way of understanding the world: we are not just minds who experience something out there, but we are in the middle of making meaning of the world through intentional interactions where our body as a lived experience to ourselves and an object to others plays a large role Merleau-Ponty Technology in variety of forms has been discussed as an extension of our self McLuhan It has also been described as extending our perception Merleau-Ponty When we drive a car van Lennep , use heavy machinery such as cranes, or play tennis Riva et al.

    Such understandings have been extending also in the area of human-computer interaction and information systems, and they have an important role to play in designing technology that supports human activities. Instead of direct design principles, such views of experience can build a vision to understand what underlying human principles should at least be in place when designing human-computer interaction.

    They also impact how virtual experiences are judged as real or not real, and call for more rigorous use of language.

    Account Options

    Literature seems to primarily consist of commentary papers and empirical studies that are often carried out through experiments. This can also be considered as a limitation of this literature review. Such publications are naturally valuable and contribute to an overall understanding of user experience in virtual environments. Still, as the use of virtual environments and information systems always takes place in a specific context, contextual user accounts would benefit the field, especially if the aim is to determine how entertainment technology could work in other contexts.

    As such, the findings are in accordance with e. Farrow and Iacovides , who pointed out that rigorous user experience descriptions of virtual embodiment are needed, and that phenomenology as a research worldview and an approach is suitable for this. Conclusion This paper has employed a phenomenological approach to review literature in the concept of virtual embodiment. This can contribute to maintaining a rigorous review process. As Degen demonstrated, audio-scapes, smell-scapes, touch-scapes and so forth become sites for cultural tensions, for example serving as markers for interwoven significant cultural practices.

    A recent study by Gustafson on experiences and consequences of frequent business travellers on their professional and personal lives shows that being mobile may be both stressful and stimulating. In an ambivalent way, experienced mobilities may be associated with physical and psychological strain, increased workloads and difficulties in balancing work and private life.

    The Virtual Embodied

    But a mobile life may also provide enriching experiences, social and professional status, promoting a career and contributing to a cosmopolitan identity. Facing the increased impact of mobilities calls for interrogating critically who and what is demobilized and remobilized across many different scales, and in what situations mobility or immobility might be desired options, coerced, or paradoxically interconnected Adey, Fluxes of mobilities involve tensions, struggles and conflicts Urry, 25 , including dislocation and emptiness.

    As Creswell notes in his study on the politics of mobility, mobility is not just a smooth movement, but also a process that is accompanied by friction, turbulence and power asymmetries. At the same time, being on-the-move can affect both the ability and inability to relate and connect to place. Being entrapped in a compulsory logic of moving on and on may lead to the experience of alienation and loneliness in working life.

    To further elaborate the experiential dimensions of embodied mobility, the following section presents a phenomenological approach. This allows developing a differentiated understanding of mobility that reveals how being mobile is bodily mediated as well as relationally and performatively placed Merleau-Ponty, Accordingly, the next section outlines basic ideas of a phenomenology of space and embodied place and mobility. A phenomenological approach facilitates rehabilitating the often forgotten primordial and opening realm of directly felt and lived experiences and realities involved in being mobile in embodied places and performances.

    Far from being merely a homogenous container that locates things, both space and place are constitutive media for things, processes and experiences to take place in depth Stroeker, as well as for any mobility and a moving existence in and towards the world. It enables performing of activities and to make sense of the same. In the placed hori-zones of organizational life-worlds, practices of its members and their place-based identification Twigger-Ross and Uzzell, are made up of an array of concerns, tasks, tools, and milieus to dwell, move and inter-act.

    This nexus refers to meaning-providing socio-historical, relational and temporal contexts and moorings that exist along a global-local continuum. It explores them at multiple levels and reveals the tensions between a place-less logic and place-dependencies in organizations. For developing this phenomenological understanding a contrast to functionalist and utilitarian orientations is enlightening.

    According to these orientations, organizational spaces have been seen as entities that are divided, controlled, imposed and which have hierarchical, productive, personalised, symbolic and social dimensions Chanlat, Consequently, in managerial and organizational contexts space is treated mostly as environmental factor or resource, utilised for finding appropriate structures and fits for organizations or groups. Managers appear then as engineers, who are involved in the spacing and timing of structures and activities into a centripetal amalgam.

    For example, managers use language of boundaries or mapping to organise space and these inscriptions create specific spacing s and timings by clarifying and delimiting zones of action Jones et al. With its centre-oriented dynamics, this kind of spacing and timing mediate a particular ordering that is supposed to be required or desired in organizing.

    This spatio-temporal organised order is invented to ensure handling everyday coordinative demands, planning and implementing strategies, undertaking projects etc. In other words, space-management aims for and functions as coordinating the proliferation and sharing of spacing s and timings to keep and optimize things and people going, both structurally and processually Hoskin, Space and spacing as well as em- or displacements materialise power relations and are used as mechanism of control Carr and Hancock, ; Jensen, They can also be instrumentalised for contesting strategies to resist regimes of domination and to reconstruct spaces Taylor and Spicer, as part of social change in organizations Hancock, , thus mobility.

    From a phenomenological perspective, spaces and places are not only socially and culturally constructed, but also and primarily experienced and consumed through embodied beings at the point of visitation as well as before and afterwards. It is the lived body, which institutes a primordial, pre-reflective access to the environing things as well as a never fully determinable orientational hold onto the world. The lived body is also a medium for moving in and through the world. Living spaces are means by which positions of subjects, things and tasks in organization become possible.

    While action-moving bodies gear into the world of organizing tasks, the lived spaces of organizations are orientating positions and movements of their members. This concerns for example movements towards left and right, up and down, near and far or moving and being at rest, while being environed at work in meaningful relations Merleau-Ponty, Thus, bodies of organizational members and their world form a dynamic spatio-temporal connection that is always already oriented by the primacy of the embodied place in organizations.

    This is the case because embodiment refers to our lived being-in-the-world that is an active and reversible process, indicating the negotiation of everyday life in relation to the material and social world Dale and Burrell, and its mobilities. As an emplaced being, the moving, knowing body is an agent, vehicle, articulation, and witness of being in place Casey, With this post-dualistic approach also a social body Crossley, and a reflexive embodiment Crossley, of places and movements within and through them becomes accessible Malpas, For developing a deeper understanding of the embodied intertwinement, both places and mobility need to be interpreted not merely as a reified positions or movements between two or more poles, but as ongoing emergencies of inter-relational processes.

    Already Lefebvre showed that space in its multiplicity is a social product, or a complex social construction that is based on values, the social production of meanings which affects perceptions and spatial practices of mobility activities. For him practices of per- and conceived space enact a spatial order in action, while discursive spaces of representation frame our understanding of what is possible and how senses and bodies are embedded in space.

    Spaces are not only socially re- produced, they are also made un- productive in social movements and practices. Placed architectural arrangements, like group-offices are used to set the supposed proper equipped stage for the drama of everyday life Brissett and Edgley, For instance, walls that determine divisions and subdivisions among parts of an organizational office, arranged as cubicles or shared work-spaces, define the construed social structure of and movements within the organization Davis, Ambivalently, emplacing artifacts both stabilize and destabilize organizational action as they may ensure coordination, communication, and control, or also create disturbance and conflict that are impacting organizational knowing and learning Svabo, and mobility.

    Accordingly, exploring the contradictory, conflictual, and ultimately political character of processes of production of space and phenomenal places can help to understand more critically possibilities and impossibilities of mobilities in organizations. As embodied spaces and places are intermediating milieus for movements — where the material and cultural as well as individual, and collective worlds meet and inter-play — they influence how multiple interwoven relations of mobility in organizations develop and unfold. Moreover, as emerging events that make mobility im- possible, re-produced spaces and places themselves are dispersed and inherently indeterminate process, thus continually reconfiguring.

    Relational intelligibility shifts our attention from an understanding of space and place as a vessel and mobility as movement between points, to a dynamic becoming that transpires between situated people and their placed artefacts-in-use, environments and emerging mobilities. For example, a completely wireless environment and surveying software produces a specific relation between employees and technology that enables, but also controls their mobility at work. Depending on how employees relate to their work-place or other places in the organization, like walkways, floors they respond movingly differently.

    For instance, the distance between workplace and welfare-facilities, amenities or meeting rooms impacts movements in everyday-lives. Moreover, depending on ergonomic conditions and whether employees can choose the area most conducive to their work influences their moving. Furthermore, working alone, independently or from home makes employees to move differently, compared to working together among others in a large working environment.

    Out of interconnections between placing and moving , emplacement and mobilities, embodied perceptions, feelings, cognitions, actions, socialities and meanings as well as artefacts, structures and functions of being mobile are created, performed, questioned, re-created, and re-negotiated.

    It is the inter-relationality of placing and moving as ongoing processes of becoming that serves as the source for embodied, emotional, social and aesthetic experiences, thus for creativity, innovation and added value. Accordingly, the way organizational members are situated and move along with their phenomena is mediated in enfleshed perceptual, orientational and actional relationships as well as individual and collective intentionalities [4].

    These include bodily mediated mobilising sensual, psycho-physical and social capacities, presences and forms of processing knowledge or communication. Ambivalently, both are perceptive, operative-intentional as well as responsive and indeterminate or emergent, but also ruled, controlled and constrained. For example, Longhurst showed how specific regulative body-regimes in organizations produce norms of impenetrability of bodily boundaries at work. Various forms of representation and moulding subjectification try to rationally tame and discipline the moving bodies-at-work, attempting to re- produce docile and adjustable bodies through post-disciplinary regimes of work Weiskopf and Loacker, Furthermore, aesthetic and presentational labour is a an embodied practice that entails supplying, mobilising, developing and commodifying corporeal dispositions, capacities and attributes transformed into competencies.

    As Swan and Fox have shown, for enacting resisting moves occupational resources are used that involve forms of symbolism of gendered and racialized bodies and body-work as part of temporal, dynamic, intermingled processes in diversity-work in the public sector. In their description of the politics and ambivalence of diversity-work they show how micro-practices and its moves employ both embodied and discursive resources as well as management technologies.


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    8. These undermining practices imply that the embedding normative orders in embodied work are negotiable structures that are open for modification. As such they are varying or morphing with changes in worldly situations and its structuration within specific, altering margins and horizons. Accordingly, embodied working life — and moves within the same — are governed by somantic-aiesthetic dispositions, intentions and social norms. Importantly, these are dynamically related to moving-making desired states of bodily senses and feelings Vannini et al.

      The power of material, embodied presence of actors in inter-practicing is shown in a case study on a meeting in a strategy context by Hodgkinson and Wright They show how much the physical presencing of positions and movement of key-actors in a meeting-room can influence the development of practices of strategizing. As the moving presencing flow of such practices is full of surprises, the supposed control may be an illusion. Corresponding to the flows of materially arranged places, possible performative movements of resistance to such practices, like ignoring, non-listening or distractive activities, may emerge.

      In addition to placed and moving bodies at work, another illustration of how places and movement are connected can be seen in relation to tele-presence in organization. The following exemplifies the relation between place, body and movement with regard to tele-presences in organizations.

      New forms of distributed or dispersed work in relation to spaces and places, like remote working, e-Work, tele-work or telecommuting and varieties of cyber-space work Felstead et al. Compared to embodied face-to-face interaction tele-presences in technology-mediated cyberspaces render distinct qualities due to its distant, non-localised, displaced relationship.

      Nevertheless, while being situated in tele-presence, a sense of embodiment is predicated upon the sensorial body, which has a malleability of its experiential boundaries and thus affect and extent bodily corporeality transporting into the real-virtual environments. The body mediates tele-presence and experiences in cyper-space, as embodied beings bring their everyday, real-world understandings and social experiences into virtual encounters. However, in tele-presences part of the sensorial architecture of the body remains in the physical world, while another is projected into the virtual one.

      Thus, cyberspace is not a disembodied reality; but rather it is a medium through which we experience a different kind of embodiment and transfigurations of body-boundaries to an extent that the virtual becomes an aspect of embodiment Richardson and Harper, Body-centered interaction even may augment the experience of presence in a virtual reality environment Slater and Usoh, As speed and intensity of technologically mediated modes have accelerated in recent years, technology not only transforms our ways of doing things, but also profoundly conditions our placed experiences and movements of ourselves and others in the world.

      The impact of a new spatial-temporal conditions and new modes and forms of human interaction can be illustrated by investigating the status of place and movement in tele-communication and the role of perceived proximity. Mobile phone communication affects, besides the use of time, the role of place; as it distributes presence in simultaneous interactions. When people are on the phone, there is a sense in which they are in two places at one time Rettie, As Backhaus has shown the temporally immediate transcendence of space through the use of the telephone creates a bi-localized space of interaction, which causes specific changes in social praxis.

      Telephone connections do not only constitute a degrounding of place, disconnecting from lived body environment. Not sharing a primary environment with each other means also that the space-within-potential-reach will have qualitatively different meanings for those involved. The realm of telephoning and other tele-present spaces involve a modified we-relationship through which meaning-intentions are intersubjectively synthesized, yet from bi-local environmental standpoints.

      Placed in diverse countries, time zones and socio-cultural environments, organizational members who are involved in long distance working relationships, will increasingly move not only in tele-phone-spaces, but also use conference calls, video-conferencing, blogging, intranet and further media to communicate. However, these distanced dis-placed relations in virtual settings, are also impeding their practice.

      This concerns for example their relation of mutual trust Collinson, or sharing of implicit knowledge Crampton, ; Zhao, losses of sensory and expressive communication and reduction in intimacy, like bonds, emotional involvement etc. Mann et al. Emotions interweave with perceived mobile sense-scapes and the experience of mobile spaces Thrift, , thereby producing a disposition towards certain mobile practices and mobile technologies Sheller, This disposition relates to bodily kinaesthetic experience of movement as well as technologies and materialities of the world by and through which movement is made.

      Likewise, displacement through mobility may contribute to feelings of dis-ease and discomfort, disorientation and disconnection or loss through interrupting familiarity and continuity that spatial context and physical presence can supply Fullilove, The following sections outline first some theoretical and methodological implications. Subsequently some limitations, political implications and perspectives of a phenomenological approach to the study of mobility are discussed.