Trading zone

Wikipedia: The metaphor of a trading zone is being applied to collaborations in science and technology. The basis of the metaphor is anthropological studies of how different cultures are able to exchange goods, despite differences in language and culture.

Peter Galison produced the “trading zone” metaphor in order to explain how physicists from different paradigms went about collaborating with each other and with engineers to develop particle detectors andradar.

According to Galison, “Two groups can agree on rules of exchange even if they ascribe utterly different significance to the objects being exchanged; they may even disagree on the meaning of the exchange process itself. Nonetheless, the trading partners can hammer out a local coordination, despite vast global differences. In an even more sophisticated way, cultures in interaction frequently establish contact languages, systems of discourse that can vary from the most function-specific jargons, through semispecific pidgins, to full-fledged creoles rich enough to support activities as complex as poetry and metalinguistic reflection” (Galison 1997, p. 783)

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