Reconfigurations of work and changing public sector geographies - The rise of digital primary healthcare

Authors: Peter van Eerbeek*, Karlstad University
Topics: Economic Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Europe
Keywords: digital work, health care, platform economy, labour geography, public sector, telemedicine
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 34
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The use of app-based, online doctors in the public primary healthcare in Sweden has skyrocketed since 2015, receiving an additional boost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This surge in digital work should be considered as transforming the spaces of work for growing numbers of healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and psychologists. First, consultations by video and chat instead of more place-bound variants make work less geographically sticky. Second, it increases non-standard work arrangements, as on-demand work requires more flexible and irregular working hours, and by companies offering selfemployment next to regular employment. Yet scant research exists on this salient transformation of work in a key public sector. In a healthcare sector characterized by high degrees of unionization, highly gendered divisions of labour, and facing more demand and labor shortages in the future, these developments raise questions regarding changes in work places, working conditions, workforce composition, as well as the differentiated experiences of healthcare professionals and impact on professional identities. This study aims to contribute to diversify debates on spatialities of digital labor and platform capitalism through a case study of reconfigurations of highly skilled, public service work. Furthermore, it does so in the context of healthcare restructuring in Sweden, which has enabled the provision of publicly financed healthcare via apps by for-profit private companies.

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