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Technological change, soft skills and future high skilled jobs

12 December 2019
3:00 pm
San Ponziano Complex - Conference Room

Online boundary work: Performing participatory practices in news production - Prof. Elena Raviola

Digital technologies have significantly changed the news field, challenging the established ways of producing news, allowing new small and big companies to enter (and win) the competition, and transforming the very meaning of news (Boczkowski, 2009; Lewis and Usher, 2013; Christin, 2018). Over the last 25 years, digitization has made possible for many to publish and have questioned the role of the journalistic profession and its relationship with the public (Lewis, 2012). As a consequence of this ongoing digitization, the boundary between journalists and the public becomes questioned, negotiated and reconstructed (Lewis, 2012; Carlson, 2015; Carlson and Lewis, 2015). This paper draws upon an ethnographic study at the French news website Rue89 to explore online boundary work unfolding in digital participatory practices (see Faraj et al., 2016 on online communities). Our preliminary analysis shows how “the online” is used to create and negotiate boundaries of different kinds that shape participation in news production. We highlight in particular three dimensions along which boundary work (Gieryn, 1983; Barley, 2015; Barrett et al., 2012; Lindberg et al., 2017)is performed on the website: inclusion/exclusion, authority/subordination, equality/difference. Our exploration aims at both highlighting the overlooked role of technology in boundary work and shedding light on the boundaries of online participatory practices.

'Become the Best Version of Yourself!’ Corporate Performance Culture in a Swedish Sportswear Company - Prof. Thorkild Thanem

While corporate performance cultures involve us in extensive systems of lofty stretch goals, continuous feedback and elaborate support schemes, they are nothing without dreams and desire. They promise us that the future is wide open; that there are no limits; that, as long as you do what it takes, the impossible is possible. In this paper, I will draw on my ethnographic fieldwork in the medium-sized Swedish sportswear company Björn Borg to discuss how performance cultures thrive on a libidinal economy of dreams and desires to maximize employee commitment and performance. In such work regimes, task-specific goal achievement is framed as a mere partial ingredient of the job. Increasing emphasis is put on personal goals set to help employees realise their dream and become the best version of themselves – not just more productive, but smarter, fitter, stronger, better, and more likeable. As this framing and exploitation of lust and dreams and the future comes to replace and co-exist with conventional notions of duty and responsibility, I conclude by asking what this may hold for the future of work and capitalism.


Elena Raviola (University of Gothenburg) - Prof. Thorkild Thanem (Stockholm University)