Transmedia work as recognition work: understanding liquidity as norm

Authors: André Jansson*, Karlstad University
Topics: Communication
Keywords: media, work, recognition, identity, flexibility
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Edgewood AB, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Scholars from different fields have showed how new technologies, business models and organizational ideologies invoke growing flexibility and adaptability on behalf of workers/employees across professional divisions. Recently, much attention has also been paid to how mobile media technologies for collaboration, networking and “prosumption” contribute not just to spatial and temporal flexibility but also, ultimately, to the collapsing of work and social life at large. This general trend can be seen both in relatively privileged settings where high degrees of emotional investments are expected and in the expanding sector of low-paid, precarious labour. While we know much about the structural forces behind these transformations, there is still a need for research on how the “liquidity norm” unfolds at the level of everyday practice. This paper uncovers a synergetic interplay between (1) the liquidity norm, (2) recognition work, and (3) transmediatization. This “triangle of liquidization” is illustrated by examples from fieldwork among cultural entrepreneurs in Sweden and mobile professionals within the United Nations system. First, the paper highlights the role of social recognition, and the risk of “recognition deficit”, as a motivational factor behind people’s inclination to adapt and make sacrifices in relation to changing working conditions. Becoming flexible, also in the eyes of others, is a key aspect of contemporary recognition work. Second, the paper suggests that the normalization of liquidity goes hand in hand with the shift from mass media to “transmedia ecologies”. Transmediatization implies that transmedia devices and platforms are indispensible for mastering liquidity and for gaining social recognition.

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