Research Strand 1: Work/Family Configurations in a Digital Age

A study undertaken by Dr Natasha Mauthner and Dr Karolina Kazimierczak from the University of Aberdeen.

Research Overview

Telling people that you are doing research on the ways in which digital technologies are reshaping our work and family lives guarantees a lively conversation.

Parents talk about the ubiquity of technology in their children’s lives and how to tear them away from their iPods and Xboxes.

Mothers and fathers bemoan technology creeping into family times and spaces: the dinner table, the bedroom, the weekend and the holiday.

While some find it hard, even impossible, to imagine life without ‘being connected’, others are grappling with how to stop technology from taking over all aspects their lives. And different family members may have contrasting views with some embracing the very technological practice or device that another is resisting.

One way or another, digital technologies are pre/occupying men, women and children. They are making people think about how we work, live, play, and relate to one another; how these practices are changing; and to what effect.

  • Are children spending more of their time online than outdoors?
  • Are we doing more work in what we have been used to seeing as non-work times and spaces?
  • Are family relationships – between men and women, parents and children, nuclear and extended family – changing as a consequence of technological practices?

Does all this matter? If so, how and why? And how are the questions arising and being discussed in sites beyond the domestic: in organisations, schools, the media, academia, to name just a few? These are some of the questions that we are exploring in our study.

Our Participants, Sites and Methods

We will be working with 15 households in north-east Scotland, with at least one child under the age of 18. Our overall approach is to invite family members to take part in the project as collaborators in the research by involving them in the selection of methods and production of artefacts.

The methods we have in mind include participation, shadowing, conversations, video ethnography, digital, photographic and written diaries. Our empirical study will be based primarily in domestic sites, with briefer forays into community and workplace settings.

For more information visit our website.

Get Involved

Share your story

We are interested in collecting stories about digital technologies in people’s lives and would like to hear from anyone who wants to share their story. If you have a story – a text, a photograph, a drawing, a recording, or any other material – that you would like to share with us, or with other people via our website, please get in touch with Karolina or Natasha.

Help us plan further projects

We are currently planning further projects which would allow us to better understand the way in which digital technologies are shaping people’s work and family lives. We would like to hear from anyone who wants to get involved in these future projects. If you have an idea, or would like to learn more about our ideas for further work, please get in touch with Karolinaor Natasha.

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