Conference Report: Perspectives – Positions – Methods. European Ethnology on Studying Contemporary Changes in the Working World

Manfred Seifert

Abstract


A conference on the subject of "New Media and the Working World. Trans-local Work and Organization Schemes as a Challenge for the Ethnographic Practice" was held from 26 until 28 September 2002 at the Ethnographic Department (Volkskundliches Seminar) at Bonn University. It was organized in collaboration with the Work Cultures Commission (Kommission Arbeitskulturen) within the German Society for European Ethnology (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde). The focus of the conference was on emerging structural challenges influencing the institutional and organizational shaping of work conditions which are manifested in two ways: (1) through implementation of modern information and communication techniques and (2) through innovative management strategies. Special attention was given to the consequences of spatial and time components on the working world as well as the organization of internal company knowledge. It was, amongst other things, of particular interest in considering the consequences for workers: What are the effects on their living conditions? In what ways do workers themselves influence the new work conditions through their personal orientations in life? A separate part of the conference dealt with the possibilities and problems of active scientific participation in companies' decision making processes by means of action research, and via internal training offered to workers. The conference was successful in fostering interdisciplinary dialogue on these topics. There were fruitful exchanges of ideas amongst the participants. The following aspects were brought into focus during the conference: the great influence of informal communication and socio-cultural structures on the virtual exchange of knowledge; the influence of local and regional features and traditional orientations; how biographic factors and individual life experiences influence personal views of the job environment; comparison of the different methodologies employed in the presented studies and projects.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0303314

Keywords


action research; workplace-communications; working conditions; working life; IT-industry; everyday life; knowledge management; field work; multi-sited ethnography



Copyright (c) 2003 Manfred Seifert

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