Work without Boundaries: "The Voices of Others" in Frontline Occupations

Didde Maria Humle, Sanne Frandsen

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingsForskningpeer review


The boundaries of work are a highly relevant, important and complex matter with many interesting questions to address. We would like to present and discus results from on-going research on negative public attention and its increased presence, consequences and importance in the work-life of many organizations, professions, sectors, groups and individual workers. The research is from cross case analysis of three empirical case studies all combining interviews and ethnographic fieldwork (e.g. observations, shadowing and document analysis). Our analysis shows that “making a difference” and “helping others” are the most predominant themes in accessing ones work as meaningful in the three types of frontline occupations; school teachers, ticket inspectors and bank advisors. Further the analysis shows that negative public attention threatens the feeling of performing meaningful, important and valued work and thus the well-being and performance of organizational members. Employees finding their work, organization, profession and/or sector questioned and scrutinized as being unprofessional or unethical struggle to handle this in their daily interactions with e.g. customers. As many organizations experience an increased intensity of public attentiveness e.g. on social media platforms this has become something that employees and managers must handle as part of their everyday work-life activities. Our research points to the importance of the public gaze as something that adds to blurred boundaries of work. Organizational members are not only preoccupied with and affected by the opinions of people they are in direct contact with but also the faceless voices of the generalized public. The boundaries between public opinions, stories of the press and interactions with customers, pupils, friends, family etc. are complex, blurred and difficult to handle. Our research shows that this affects the perception of work as meaningful and we would like to discuss how to address this collectively as practitioners and researchers.
TitelProgram och abstrakt : FALF 2023 Arbetets Gränser
RedaktørerIda de Wit Sandström, Kristin Linderoth
Antal sider1
ForlagLund University
Publikationsdatojun. 2023
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2023
BegivenhedForum for arbetslivsforskning. FALF 2023: Arbetets gränser - Dunkers kulturhus, Helsingborg, Sverige
Varighed: 14 jun. 202316 jun. 2023


KonferenceForum for arbetslivsforskning. FALF 2023
LokationDunkers kulturhus