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Disrupting technology: contextualising continuity and change in technology, work and employment

28-29th November, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change, University of Leeds


Recent scholarship on the relationship between technology and work has often tended to accentuate new technologies’ supposed transformative effects. Conferences on work and employment often feature streams dedicated solely to new technologies – such as platforms or AI – segregated from other streams where technology is mentioned very little. This both narrows our understandings of what constitutes ‘technology’ and contributes to the renewed growth of technological determinism, both in its utopian or dystopian variants- from Fully Automated Luxury Communism” on one hand to a nightmare of total surveillance on the other. Such debates are often speculative and can serve to obscure how actually existing employment relations are being shaped by new technologies.

The Centre for Employment Relations, Innovation and Change (CERIC) at Leeds University Business School is pleased to announce a call for papers for a two day event in November 2019 relating to these questions.

This workshop calls for more careful, empirically grounded, theorisations of technology, its novelty and its impact on work and employment relations. We ask that contributions recognise the influence of conflicted interests and actions by managers, workers, the state and other social actors on the patterns, processes and outcomes of technological innovation. By devoting more attention to contextualising and historicising the relationship between technology and work, we ask contributors to develop more critical accounts of the extent of transformation and disruption, vis-à-vis entrenchment or continuity of existing social relations and employment relationships. Beyond the technology itself, what is genuinely novel and transformative about automation, AI or ‘platformisation’ and which more mundane technologies might we be missing from the analysis?

We welcome contributions of themes including:

  1. The state, regulation and new technology
  2. Historical research on the introduction of new technologies of work
  3. Management, resistance, organization, and technology
  4. Occupations, skills, professions, and technology
  5. Inequalities (race, gender, (dis)ability) and technology
  6. Methods for studying work and technology – towards a research agenda


Submission details

If you are interested in presenting at this conference, please submit abstracts to c.r.umney@leeds.ac.uk, with a deadline of 10th September. We also welcome suggestions for panel sessions.


Registration details

If you are interested in attending this conference, please register via this Eventbrite page.

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