Talks and Poster Presentations (with Proceedings-Entry):

J.L. Meissner, N. Bergmann, E. Haselsteiner, N. Pretterhofer:
"The Hidden Technological Labour of the Hero(in)es of the Everyday";
Talk: Community Informatics Research Network Conference, https://sites.google.com/view/cirn2021/home (invited); 2021-11-08 - 2021-11-12; in: "19th Annual Community Informatics Research Network Confernce", https://sites.google.com/view/cirn2021/home, Session 3: Hidden Labour (2021), 13 pages.

English abstract:
Digitalisation has transformed work, jobs, and working environments. Research has paid a lot of attention to topics such as "industry 4.0", gig economy and digital employment.
However, it is often overlooked how digitalisation has also affected the (often female-dominated and generally underpaid) occupations of the service sector. Which (hidden) technological labour do retail employees or mobile care workers perform on a daily basis?
This was the research question guiding an interdisciplinary research project in Vienna, Austria.
Our project brought together feminist perspectives from social, spatial and technological sciences. We shared the aim to place explicit focus on the rarely visible technologies and digital competencies that service workers already employ in their service provision. By bringing their often hidden efforts to the frontstage, we seek to contribute to political debates on revaluating these often underrated and underpaid occupations.
Our work started at the same time as the pandemic hit central Europe. The lockdowns initially drew a lot of attention to the very sector which we set out to investigate. Suddenly, the workers were classified "system-relevant". However, the wave of gratitude and applause from the balconies faded soon again without initiating any actual benefits for the workers. On the contrary, we observed in our work several ways in which the pandemic put them not only in risk and under stress but also caused them additional technological labour.
This paper reports on our qualitative research findings that are directly related to the particular challenges of "this moment in history". We reflect on the competencies that we saw frontline workers to employ in order to keep supermarkets and chemist´s shops open and to ensure that old people in the need of care receive services at their homes of best and risk-free quality as possible. Based on our data, we highlight the workers´ impressive degree of commitment, underestimated skill and technological adaptiveness. In the discussion we raise important questions about taking action and what might be needed to actually improve the status of the often female-dominated and generally underpaid system-relevant occupations of the service sector.

hidden technological labour, female-dominated low-wage work, digital competencies, digital skills

Related Projects:
Project Head Geraldine Fitzpatrick:

Created from the Publication Database of the Vienna University of Technology.