New Relationships between Work and Family through Digitalization?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Tanja CARSTENSEN, LMU Munich, Germany
Working conditions are currently shaped by a variety of new digital technologies, especially mobile and smart devices, social media, and collaboration platforms, which have changed the organization of work times, spaces, tasks and demands. The increasing professional use of these technologies establishes the normalization of a new kind of flexible work: Nearly every time and every place, such as weekends, evenings, hotel rooms, trains, living rooms, and playgrounds, can be used for dealing with work tasks; every moment becomes a possible work situation.

For a long while, new technologies and the flexibilization of work have been connected with hopes of new arrangements of job and family life. This issue has to be posed anew in times of digitalization. I would like to pursue the question of how far this new working “any place and any time” is changing work-family relations. My paper is based on the first results of an empirical study (“Transformations of Gender Relations through Digitalization”, LMU Munich), which refers to case studies in German companies which offer digital, mobile, and flexible work arrangements. I would like to consider how arrangements between job and care demands have changed with digitalization, as well as examine to what degree new facilitations and burdens have arisen. When, where and how do employees use digital technologies for work, and how do they organize their everyday lives with them as helpful tools? An assumption I will investigate is that with new technologies the challenge to balance job and family is solved by individualized multitasking, by working “here and there,” and by a range of optimizing tasks which, ultimately, make the high demands found in both areas more invisible than visible. In all probability, the unequal and gendered division of work and family tasks will not be affected by digitalization.