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Title: Technology at work and domestic labour: A critical exploration of gender, class, and work-life articulation
Authors: Monroe, Julie
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This thesis explores how reproductive and other domestic labour is managed in work time through personal internet use at work [PIUW]. For parents, PIUW makes it possible to be available to children during the workday and to receive communications from school and nursery. It allows life projects to be managed across the work-life boundary. Managing life projects in work time has widespread wellbeing benefits. However, it is clear from empirical data that technology is not universally enabling in the contemporary office. Analysis of 44 interviews with office workers and managers reveals a dramatic inequality between those in working-class and middle-class jobs. Overall, this study finds that the PIUW of those in working-class jobs is constrained (limiting their ability to manage life-related tasks) while the PIUW of those in middle-class jobs is enabled (allowing them to manage life-related tasks). Furthermore, women in middle-class jobs are significantly more likely than women in working-class jobs to use PIUW instrumentally, to manage home-related tasks. To explain findings, this thesis develops a realist intersectional comparison of gender and occupational class that supports a critical explanation of the interplay between agency and structure through which observed differences in PIUW, relationships between phenomena such as norms, workplace rules, and individual beliefs are explored. Two elements of Lawson’s ontological framework are drawn on. These are Lawson’s (2012) theory of social positioning and Lawson’s (2003) method of contrastive explanation. As a result, an original theoretical contribution is developed via a theoretical model of positionality created from the abductive analysis. The model makes it possible to explain how class manifests itself through the labour process leading to several contributions. Firstly, an explanation is developed of how it is that one group of workers is relatively disadvantaged regarding PIUW. Secondly, through tracing relationships between labour process conditions and collective rule-following practices, an explanation is developed of how inequality is inscribed at multiple levels through the operation of organisational power. Thirdly, by comparing the work-life experiences of those in different labour market positions this research contributes to debates around work-life and inequality, that are otherwise overly focused on the experience of the middle class
Description: Ph. D. Thesis.
Appears in Collections:Newcastle University Business School

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