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Technology, Time and Everyday Life

With Professor Judy Wajcman
Date & Time:
09:00:00 - 17:30:00,
Friday 25 November, 2005


This workshop will bring together leading researchers on the mobile phone to assess the state of the art and to explore future research agendas. While research on the mobile phone is proliferating, it is not systematically linked with research on the Internet. Given the increasing overlap between cellular telephones and Internet delivery, this is an opportune time to consider the issues raised by wireless ICTs that afford continual availability and mobility. The workshop will explore the links as well as differences between the fields of Internet and mobile phone research, and ask whether the convergence of these technologies poses new issues for social theory.

As the relationship between different ICTs is being reconfigured, so too is the divide between the historically separate spheres of work and home life. Engaging with this important social trend, the workshop will consider how portable ICTs, such as the mobile phone, are affecting the way people negotiate everyday life. Key questions include: Does the mobile phone facilitate family and work micro coordination, by increasing the flexibility of arrangements, including between spouses and across generations? Or is it enabling work intensification and extended working hours? How are mobile technologies shaping people’s experience of time? Are they transforming the way time is perceived, used, managed, and disciplined?

Aims of the Workshop

The workshop reflects the OII’s distinctive focus on understanding the social dynamics shaping, and being shaped by, the ICTs. It will concentrate on two main themes:

  • The new challenges that digital convergence poses for theory and research practice in the area.
  • The effects of mobile technologies on the temporal dimensions of contemporary society.

To elaborate these themes, the workshop will explore questions such as:

  • Can frameworks developed for Internet research be usefully applied to the mobile phone?
  • Can the multidisciplinary approaches of the social studies of science and technology (STS) and new media studies be integrated, without losing their distinctive strengths?
  • What do clichés such as ‘ICTs collapse time and space’ really mean?
  • Can ICTs both ease and intensify time pressure?
  • How are social relationships transformed through the mediation of the Internet and the mobile phone?
  • Does the constant connection and ubiquity afforded by wireless ICTs foster a mobile privatisation, reconfiguring the boundaries between work and everyday life?

Rather than necessarily seeking formal papers, we are asking the invitees to make a short presentation about their own research and how it might address the themes of the workshop. This is an opportunity to reflect on whether research on mobile or mediated communication practices constitutes a distinct research field, and how it relates to disciplinary boundaries between sociology, science and technology studies, and new media /cultural theory.

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