Digital epiphanies: Work and family in a digital age

workandfamily
This post, written by one of the project team, Prof Natasha Mauthner, was originally posted on the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships blog in June 2013. CRFR is a consortium research centre for researchers interested in families and relationships working across several Scottish universities.

When I tell people that I am doing a research project on how digital technologies are reshaping our work and family lives, everyone has a story to tell.

A mother I meet on holiday in a youth hostel says that while her partner takes their three children skiing, she uses her day to clear emails, catch up on work and generally get ahead of herself for when she returns to the office.

Another mother explains that while her husband – who travels a lot for work – was physically present with the family during the Christmas holiday he was mentally absent, glued to his computer and iphone even when engaged in family activities.

While one father bemoans the fact that his wife spent their summer holiday ‘on the blackberry the whole time’, another tells me he finds the idea of having a holiday without wifi unimaginable. Gesturing to the smartphone that he is holding, he tells me his digital devices have become ‘part of my body’.

What questions do these anecdotal stories prompt?

    • Are people’s use of digital devices challenging not only the traditional separation between work and home, but also that between work and leisure?
    • Is ‘the holiday’, as we have come to know it in recent historical times, undergoing change?
    • Who stands to gain or lose from these shifts? Employers, employees, families, men, women, children?
    • Are these changes contested by some while accepted and even embraced by others?

These are some of the questions that colleagues and I are exploring in a project, Digital Epiphanies … read the full post here.

 

Natasha Mauthner & the DE team

 

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