Clocked In – Work, Time, and Technology in the Digital Economy

Funder: SSHRC Insight Grant

Principal Investigator: Mark P. Thomas (Associate Professor, Sociology)

Changing patterns of working time figure prominently in wider patterns of social and economic change. New digital technologies, including those that have facilitated the emergence of the 'platform economy', have contributed to transformations in the organization of working time, including by increasing the capacities for time flexibility for both employers and workers, as well as by creating new mechanisms to regulate and monitor working time. With new digital technologies reshaping existing forms of work as well as contributing to the emergence of new forms of work, the social organization of working time constitutes a key site of contention in the contemporary world of work. Understanding the relationship between working time change and new technologies has emerged as a pressing question for researchers and policymakers.

Set in a context characterized by both shifts away from standard working hours and rapid technological innovation, this project asks: in what ways are new digital technologies contributing to the reorganization of working time? The objectives of the project are threefold. First, the project will undertake a mapping of working time patterns in Canada and comparable international jurisdictions using existing labour market statistics. This initial mapping will produce a picture of both working time and working time change set over a period of several decades leading up to the present day. Second, the project will conduct three qualitative, case studies of work, time, and new technologies. Organized around cross-cutting themes of flexibility, control, and regulation, the case studies will explore the implications of new technologies and changing patterns of working time for workers, employers, policymakers, and worker organizations. Third, the project will analyze the implications of its findings for working time regulation and worker representation, and will thereby contribute to the development of new strategies to counter working time pressures in the context of technologically mediated working time change.