It's not easy being a social scientist/knowledge worker these days. I can't just learn a new IT tool and go with it. Instead I have to think about what it will do to the social fabric. I think of the collection and use of tools as a clue to status within social organizations, and I feel in my gut that technology resistance is dependent somehow on perceptions of roles and relationships.
An article I just read on Fast Company, IT's Not about the Technology, has an interview with researcher Tom Austin, who says that the social sciences will become more and more important in information technology (IT). When asked, "What disciplines will these higher-level IT thinkers come from? Humanities?" Austin answered,
It's not just the humanities. It's also cultural anthropologists, psychologists, organizational theorists -- people who can look at an environment and figure out, where do we let things go?
A lot that I've read about organizational learning and knowledge management emphasizes the impact that an organization's culture has on learning. You can set up all the right procedures and instruments for gathering and circulating knowledge, but if the belief system or the networks of relationships create hostility and alienation instead of collaboration and shared identity, you've got trouble.
On the other hand, a little bit of sociology or psychology might help users find new things to do with a toy that the engineers hadn't thought of. The engineer might say, "Look what this can do," while the social scientist would say, "look what we can do with this." I'm sure the popularity of web 2.0 tools is due in large part to how they make us feel, and what they do to liven up relationships. I confess that the first time I realized the potential for collaborative tagging I felt a little thrill. Translating between technology and human organization is a proposition I'm comfortable with.