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Work's Intimacy

ISBN: 978-0-7456-5027-2
200 pages
September 2011, Polity
Work
This book provides a long-overdue account of online technology and its impact on the work and lifestyles of professional employees. It moves between the offices and homes of workers in the knew "knowledge" economy to provide intimate insight into the personal, family, and wider social tensions emerging in today’s rapidly changing work environment.

Drawing on her extensive research, Gregg shows that new media technologies encourage and exacerbate an older tendency among salaried professionals to put work at the heart of daily concerns, often at the expense of other sources of intimacy and fulfillment. New media technologies from mobile phones to laptops and tablet computers, have been marketed as devices that give us the freedom to work where we want, when we want, but little attention has been paid to the consequences of this shift, which has seen work move out of the office and into cafés, trains, living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms. This professional "presence bleed" leads to work concerns impinging on the personal lives of employees in new and unforseen ways.

This groundbreaking book explores how aspiring and established professionals each try to cope with the unprecedented intimacy of technologically-mediated work, and how its seductions seem poised to triumph over the few remaining relationships that may stand in its way
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Contents
Acknowledgments
Preface
Introduction
Work's intimacy: Performing professionalism online and on the job

PART ONE
THE CONNECTIVITY IMPERATIVE: BUSINESS RESPONSES TO NEW MEDIA
1. Selling the flexible workplace: The creative economy and new media fetishism
2. Working from home: The mobile office and the seduction of convenience
3. Part-time precarity: Discount labour and contract careers

PART TWO
GETTING INTIMATE: ONLINE CULTURE AND THE RISE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING
4. To CC: or not to CC: Teamwork in office culture
5. Facebook friends: Security blankets and career mobility
6. Know your product: Online branding and the evacuation of friendship

PART THREE
LOOKING FOR LOVE IN THE NETWORKED HOUSEHOLD
7. Home offices and remote parents: Family dynamics in online households
8. Long hours, high bandwidth: Domesticity at a distance
9. On call

Conclusion
Labour politics in an online workplace: The lovers vs. the loveless


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Melissa Gregg is Senior Lecturer inGender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. She is author of Cultural Studies' Affective Voices (Palgrave 2006) and co-editor of The Affect Theory Reader (with Gregory J. Seigworth, Duke University Press, 2010).
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  • This is a remarkable study of the impact on online technologies on professional workers.
  • Gregg introduces the notion of work's intimacy to describe the way technology exacerbates the expectations of professional jobs as they come to invade spaces and times that were once less susceptible to work's presence.
  • She explores several issues including manic email monitoring, online presence performance and the tyranny of the mobile phone for senior executives and on-call workers alike.
  • The book is unique in its focus on social networking technologies.
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"Is your working life afflicted by an increasing taskload, the 'coercive dimensions' of teamwork, longer hours, job insecurity and the intrusion of labour into personal life? Then Gregg's brilliant book, based on athropological research in Brisbane but of global significance, will show you that you are not alone. Writing of organisations that continue to demand unidirectional 'loyalty' from their workers, and of a woman whose office contacted her on every single day of her maternity leave, Gregg conveys a coolly controlled anger while coining powerful descriptions such as 'function creep' and 'binge work'. Her interviewees, baffled but trying, elicit our empathy, even those who have internalised the brutalist jargon of the modern office. If I ever use 'progress' or 'action' as a transitive verb, please shoot me."
Steven Poole, The Guardian

"Author Melissa Gregg has put flesh on the bones of what many suspected. Under the pretence of giving us the freedom to work at our own pace and wherever we choose, mobile phones, laptops and 'tablet' computers have shackled us to our bosses' will in a way that nothing has done since the treadmill."
Irish Times

"An engaging read that will chime with the experiences of academics and many other professional workers."
Times Higher Education 

"A timely and important book, which raises essential questions about work, lifestyle, emotions and intimacy in the era of online technologies … All interested in this book will not only find important scholarly discussion, but will also be made to rethink their own labour practices, priorities, and 'lives and loves'. This mobilisation of achievement and accomplishment for rethinking our own world, in which discourses of achievement and accomplishment monopolised all spheres of life, and in which the imperative to love one's wok implies a troubling freedom is the effect of this book, which is at least equally important as the scholarly discussions it will trigger."
Anthropological Notebooks

"An important book that will transform the way we think about both work and intimacy.  Rich, moving, and scholarly, Work's Intimacy looks set to become a new classic in the fields of cultural studies, gender studies and the sociology of labour."
Rosalind Gill, King's College London

"Gregg's remarkable analysis of the dispersed workplace could not be more relevant. It is a precious gift to scholars of modern work, and it will also be invaluable to anyone struggling to meet too many deadlines and balance too many obligations in pursuit of a livelihood today."
Andrew Ross, author of Nice Work If You Can Get It

"Based on a rich body of empirical research, Work's Intimacy provides us with a troubling, insightful and timely analysis of the partnership between online technologies and the changing mythologies of work - and its impact on our everyday lives. Melissa Gregg has written an important book, carefully unpicking so much of what we have come to take for granted in our experience of the ever-expanding boundaries of the working life."
Graeme Turner, The University of Queensland

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