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P028


Rethinking and reshaping digital work(places) with practice theories 
Convenors:
Katja Schönian (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Stefan Laube (Johannes Kepler University Linz)
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Chairs:
Katja Schönian (Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg)
Stefan Laube (Johannes Kepler University Linz)
Format:
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Existing narratives often portray the digitalisation of work and workplaces as an inevitable fate that organisations and employees have to face. This panel explores the ways in which practice theories mobilise sensibilities that move beyond such frameworks.

Long Abstract:

The digital transformation constitutes one of the grand challenges contemporary societies face today. Indeed, work is increasingly shaped by digital and also AI technologies. Existing narratives often portray the digitalization of work(places) as an inevitable fate that organisations and employees have to face.

This panel explores the ways in which practice theories mobilise sensibilities that move beyond such frameworks. Theories of practice have received great attention in the last 20 years. Focussing on the bodily and materially accomplishment of practices, they offer to rethink what has elsewhere been denoted as ‘systems’ or ‘structures’. They share a focus on actions as integrated forms of doings and sayings, underlining the implicit rules that shape these activities. Previous research has, for instance, used practice theory perspectives to illuminate the informal politics of technology implementation projects or the material situatedness of digital work, e.g. in financial trading. Doing so, researchers have explicitly or implicitly referred to concepts and perspectives from STS, such as the notion of ‘practice’ (Suchman et al. 1999), ‘sociomaterial entanglement’ (Orlikowski 2007), ‘synthetic situation’ (Knorr Cetina 2009) but also more broadly to the methodologies of laboratory studies and the idea of actor-networks (Latour 2005; Law 2009).

We welcome submissions that are based on field work and that explore the digitalization of the workplace in relation to practice theory approaches and related concepts. The papers may address the following questions, but are not limited to:

• How can practice theory take into account the materiality of digital work, i.e. the relationship between digital technologies, virtual spaces and bodily and material enactments?

• How does practice theory increase our understanding of contemporary management practices in organisations, e.g. in relation to algorithmic management, AI, cybersecurity, and related phenomena?

• What are the challenges digital phenomena present for practice theory?

• How does practice theory sensibilities challenge and re-shape grand narratives of digitalization, e.g. the seemingly ‘virtualization’ of work?

• How can practice theory relate to other theoretical debates in order to analyse the digitalization of work(places)?

Accepted papers: