Promoting Technomadic Work in the New Economy

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Michelle Rodino
University of Pittsburgh

The rhetoric that promotes mobile communication technologies (MCTs) helps create a story and a language that legitimize the reorganization of labor.


The promotion of technomadic work in corporate literature, as well as in cpopular culture, provides a useful case study for communication scholars to examine the ways that producers and promoters imagine new technologies, a process that, as cultural critic Raymond Williams argues, helps determine the forms and uses of communication technologies. This presentation is an analysis of the ways in which MCTs are imagined as serving business needs inthe "new economy."


Such an analysis requires attentiveness to the social relations in which MCTs are produced and received. MCTs are conceived of and consumed in an environment where its patrons and prodcuers (capitalists and their associates), publicists (marketers), craftspeople (workers) and users (consumers) compete politically and materially. Thus, this project contributes ot the sort of history that Marvin (1988) conducts and calls for,one inwhich the object of study "is shifted from the instrument tothe drama in which existing grups perpetually negotiate power ... [and attempt] to restore social equilibrium" (p. 5). Such drama is palpable in MCTs' case. The conservative, and at times reactionary, nature of MCTs' appealsuggests a lack of confidence that such gadgets will sell. This uncertainty is well-founded as the unionizing efforts of "anytime, anywhere" technical workers (actually existing technomads) demonstrate growing resistance against anytime-anywhere work as a practice and an ideology.


If we are to shape the network society in ways that truly empower people, we must intellectually and politically contest technological determinism, forit inhibits our understanding of the perils and promise of the new communication infrastructure.

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