University of Limerick
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Techologically-mediated nomadicity in academic settings: Tm-N as a dynamic and emergent process

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posted on 2022-08-26, 14:09 authored by Aparecido Fabiano Pinatti de Carvalho
This thesis provides a detailed account of the nomadic lives of a cohort of knowledge workers and explores the ways in which they are mediated by computer technologies. Although increasing attention has been paid to the wide range of their practices and related phenomena, which I term Technologically-mediated Nomadicity (Tm-N), in the past few years little has been said about how this way of engaging in work at multiple locations happens to people and is integrated in their work-life. Tm-N is herein discussed as the process through which the workplace is mobilised to an assortment of locations so that productive activities can be accomplished from these locations, often with the help of computer technologies. It is argued here that the relationship between Tm-N and the factors that lead to it are central to understanding why this approach to work-life is becoming increasingly common in contemporary society – especially among workers who hold knowledge-based positions. An understanding of this relationship gives further insights into the role of computer technologies in this scenario. The thesis focuses on academics developing work in and across several locations as the flexibility of many of their work activities means that they can be performed at home, in the office, in cafés, restaurants, airports, airplanes, to name but a few locations. This potential “lack of a stable and fixed location” where work can be carried out characterises them as instances of T-Nomads (Tech Nomads), who are understood here as people who do Tm-N. This is an ethnographically-informed study, i.e. methods based on direct observation and in-depth interviews were used to collect data for the research. The fieldwork data suggest that Tm-N is a complex phenomenon showing that it can be understood as a process that emerges from people’s engagement with an ecology of practices, involving a dialogue between human bodies and technologies as work gets accomplished in and across different sites. Empirical evidence shows that Tm-N should be seen as dynamic and emergent; it is reconfigured according to the ways in which people think of their work-life, strategise about it and react in situations where tasks cannot be accomplished as planned. Furthermore, the findings point towards the existence of a spectrum of factors driving Tm-N that ranges from choice, through opportunity to obligation. Finally, the findings suggest that Tm-N should not be regarded as a process to do only with work, but as encompassing practices that often blur the boundaries between the professional and the personal spheres of people’s lives.



  • Doctoral

First supervisor

Ciolfi, Luigina

Second supervisor

Gray, Breda



Other Funding information

Irish Social Science Research Platform



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