1st Edition

Made To Work Mobilising Contemporary Worklives

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    232 Pages
    by Routledge

    Made to Work analyses the conditions of mobile knowledge work (MKW) in contemporary worklives, contrasting and drawing parallels among three highly significant sectors of the Knowledge Economy: academia, information communication technology (ICT) management, and digital creative work.

    It introduces the concept of ‘corollary work’ to characterise the elusive work underpinning the configuration of workers, informational, technological, relational and infrastructural resources in (re)producing liveable worklives.

    It ultimately illuminates the myriad strands of corollary work that enable MKW to take place and contributes to emergent debates on how exploitation, at least in the domain of MKW, can be named, resisted and creatively subverted. In so doing, it opens up a conversation about the complex ways in which contemporary worklives are ‘made to work’, and about potential interventions to bring about more just worklife conditions in the future.


    1. Corollary Work: The Mainstay of Mobile Knowledge Work

    2. Cities and Regions in the Placing of Worklives

    3. Everyday Worklife Placing

    4. Anticipatory Availability: ‘Time Work’ in the Worklives of ICT Managers and
    Digital Creatives

    5. ‘Reflexive Rhythmicity’ and the Making of Academic Worklives

    6. The Productivity Quest

    7. Identity Work: Animating the Mobile Knowledge Worklife



    Breda Gray is Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Limerick (Ireland).

    Luigina Ciolfi is Professor of Human Centred Computing at Sheffield Hallam University (UK).

    Aparecido Fabiano Pinatti de Carvalho is Associate Researcher at the Institute of Information Systems and New Media of the University of Siegen (Germany).

    "This is a must-read for anyone interested in ‘knowledge work’ and the lives associated with it. It examines the varying rhythms and spaces of this work for three groups of workers – IT, digital creatives and academics – with particular attention to the ‘corollary work’ that makes their mobile work possible, both technically and socially. The deep interdependence between ‘knowledge work’ and the social and spatial processes that make it possible are examined in a lively and insightful analysis. It meshes together very effectively a rigorous comparative research design with close interpretive analysis to produce a readable and enriching account."

    Professor Seán Ó Riain, Department of Sociology Maynooth University, Ireland

    "Mobile work is often pitched in terms of liberation from the inflexible constraints of the ‘old’ ways of working through new technologies (smaller, faster, better, cheaper, anytime, anywhere, and oh, so much more fun!), but its reality is highly complex and nuanced, and deserving of a more reflective examination. Made to Work threads together the authors’ expertise from across the computing and social sciences, extending a sweeping and comprehensive review of prior work into a rich investigation into the work and lives of real mobile knowledge workers, showing how a wide span of informational, technical, relational, and infrastructural resources are pulled together to make their work work for them. Made to Work is critical reading for anyone trying to understand contemporary and future forms of work, and for the designers of technical and organisational systems used to enable mobile work."

    Professor Mark Perry, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences, Brunel University, United Kingdom

    "Based on a major empirical study lasting five years, Made to Work marks an intervention that offers new understandings of work and labour, public and private, space and place, and mobility, precarity and temporality. Moving on from studies of single occupational groups, the book looks across diverse forms of mobile knowledge work, starting from workers’ lives and exploring similarities and differences of experience between and among academics, digital creatives, and ICT managers. The result is a book that fizzes with intellectual energy, and which fashions key new terms such as ‘corollary work’ and ‘acute arrhythmia’ to understand the relentless and turbulent nature of digital worklife today."

    Professor Rosalind Gill, Department of Sociology, City, University of London, United Kingdom

    "Made to Work is a valuable look at the intricacies of mobile knowledge workers and what they do to make their worklives work. Drawing on the experiences of workers in Ireland, Gray, Ciolfi, and Pinatti detail how workers engage in ‘corollary work’ to navigate, detangle, and weave together a personal resource ‘fabric’ to achieve their goals. These authors not only raise the veil on the necessity of corollary work for mobile knowledge workers, but, most importantly, honor it as an intentional and creative act that enables their subjects to make worlds that would otherwise not exist. This is an invaluable resource for understanding the intersection of work, technology, and mobility today."

    Dr. Ingrid Erickson, Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University, USA

    "Made to Work follows mobile knowledge workers in academia, digital creative work and information technology communication management, providing a stunningly detailed account of how working lives are being recreated. Informed by an in-depth study of workers based in Ireland, it reveals how for this elusive and often celebrated group of workers living and working cannot be disentangled, resulting in what the authors term ‘worklives’. Making distinctive interventions in the sociology of mobilities, feminist sociology and the sociology of work, this book offers important models not only for how to study mobilities but also for how to achieve more just working lives in the future. This book is critically important for anyone interested in the future of work."

    Professor Lisa Adkins, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia

    "The multidisciplinary study of work situated outside the traditional constraints imposed by offices and workstations has come a long way since early studies of teleworking in the 1990s. Much effort has been invested in bringing the understanding of a set of phenomena with many new labels, such as, mobile working, itinerant work, and nomadic working. This book is an excellent addition to this body of work. It is a scholarly work warranting significant attention since it provides a deep account of contemporary knowledge work based on three revelationary case studies. The overarching construct, ‘collorary work’, frames the continual and unpredictable configuration of work, technology and other resources — all the work that makes work work. The book focuses primarily on the social and individual aspects, and is an outstanding example of research spanning the several interrelated fields bringing academic substance to ‘the mobilities turn’."

    Dr. Carsten Sørensen, Department of Management, The London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

    "This excellent book knits together disparate literatures around modern conceptions of knowledge work. Through careful empirical examination it documents the many ‘in-between’ practices that make the modern diverse workplace, balanced with a concern for the global problems of under- and over-work. It both expands our understanding of what a modern job actually involves, but also how workers need to situate their work in their lives. Seldom has the core dilemmas of the knowledge worker been so accurately characterised."

    Professor Barry Brown, Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, University of Stockholm, Sweden