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Digital technology, work extension and acceleration society

Wajcman, Judy (2018) Digital technology, work extension and acceleration society. German Journal of Human Resource Management: Zeitschrift für Personalforschung. ISSN 2397-0022

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Identification Number: 10.1177/2397002218775930


This essay is based on a keynote speech given at the Organizational Working Time Regimes conference on 30 March 2017 at the University of Graz, Austria. It challenged the widespread assumption that digital technologies are radically altering our perception of time: as if we are mere hostages to the accelerating drive of machines. Digital devices are sold to us as time-saving tools that promote a busy, exciting action-packed lifestyle. But all technologies are inherently social: they bear the imprint of the people and social context from which they emerge. Time is lived at the intersection of an array of social differences in which some people’s time and labour is valued more highly than others’, and where some groups gain speed and efficiency at the expense of others. Overall, then, the talk argued that while there is no temporal logic inherent in technologies, artefacts do play a central role in the constitution of time regimes. The design of technologies matters for how we work, live and communicate, which in turn sets the tempo and texture of social time. So, it is striking that the people who design our technology and decide what is made are unrepresentative of society. The most powerful companies in the world today are basically engineering companies and employ few women, minorities and people over 40. To control our time, we must not only contest the imperative of speed and workaholism, but also democratise the making of engineering. Only then can we harness our inventiveness to fashion an alternative politics of time.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2018 SAGE Publications
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2018 14:48
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 01:27

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