Mediatization and Communicative Mobility: Everyday-Communication against the Background of an increasingly individualized, mobile Labor Market
Individualization, mobility and mediatisation can be seen as three major factors which, among others, determine today’s labour market. In my dissertation project I will analyse the interaction of those conditions on modern living- and career-options with the appropriation of digital media in Germany from a communication studies point of view. The central research question that I am asking is: Which forms and patterns of communication occur in highly mobile jobs or work situations and how do people thereby actively manage their personal communication networks? The overall aim is to develop an integrative typology of a) modes of labour-mobility and b) patterns/forms of communication characterized by the appropriation of digital media (e.g. mobile phone, chat, social software, e-mail) in situations of work-mobility – for example in jobs that can be perceived as mobile jobs (e.g. corporate consultants or industrial fitters), during periods of long-term commuting or when moving from one place to another due to education/university studies or a job change. With this broad focus on ‘digital media’ instead of one particular technology I intend to avoid an all too common technology-determinism. In this context, the aim is to have an additional question answered: In how far do certain media technologies play distinct roles in maintaining old as well as developing new ego-centred networks of communication? Frequently, the physical distance between places of living and working mean, that on the one hand personal contacts – like family members, partners, or friends – have to be actively kept up, and on the other hand new networks have to be built up – in institutional (work or education) as well as in private (circle of friends, leisure time) terms. At the same time situations of labour-mobility may create a threefold set of integration-problems; people are confronted with an a) increasing number of communication networks (pluralisation) which they b) are to a certain degree choosing in a context of self-determination (individualization) and which are c) posing very particular demands. Besides the three main assumptions mentioned at the beginning – individualization, mobilization, and mediatisation – I will apply the approach of ‘communicative mobility’ – a concept, that offers the potential to theoretically differentiate the manifold interrelations between ‘being mobile’ and the modes of communication in situations of mobility as well as mobile lifestyles in general. Finally, this research project wants to increase the understanding of the communicative management of social relations in more and more individualized and translocal labour markets and life circumstances.