From 29/11/2017 to 01/12/2017
Marne la Vallée November 29-30, December 1, 2017
« Work on the move ». The title of a workshop held at Lancaster University in 2015, organised by Lisa Wood, sums up in a single formula the breadth of issues raised by the study of work-related mobility. Mobility, as an indispensable component of practice of countless professions, has become so important that in some cases it affects the very nature of work and the social relations that develop within and from it.
This growing and abundant mobility is not without its problems. From an environmental point of view, the movements it causes, which are very often carried out in cars, pose a serious threat to air quality, consume worrying quantities of energy and are the source of various other serious disruptions. From the point of view of working conditions, it leads to an increase in the amount of time spent away from home, which is a factor of fatigue, but also invading private life through work. The numerous changes in the organisation of work and the timetables it requires can make such mobility costly for companies and burdensome for workers. From a safety point of view, it is responsible for increased exposure of workers to road safety risks. It requires public transport operators and local authorities to face inextricable difficulties in managing traffic peaks and congestion.
Studies on mobility in general, and therefore also on work-related mobility, have long favoured a focus on forms of mobility over forms of work. It is precisely this perspective that we wish to reverse. Indeed, far from being homogeneous, work- related mobility covers a wide range of forms, which are all modalities of the organisation of activity and the interweaving of work and mobility.
The most common is daily commuting between the place of residence and the workplace. But strictly reduced mobility at home/work travel is in fact quite rare, and many workers travel more or less regularly to a place other than their usual place of work to participate in meetings, visit clients, follow a construction site and so on. Work-related mobility is already less routine if the workplace changes almost
systematically from one day to the next, as is the case, for example, for repair workers who respond to various calls and sites across one day. The same applies if the home is very far from the workplace, which means that you have to travel for the whole week, a situation in which some workers or assembly technicians, for example, find themselves. But there is also more or less regular mobility outside a fixed workplace, like business trips that can take place over several days.
Finally, there is a dense core of mobility linked to the work carried out by those whom we call “mobile professionals”, whose work finds them travelling regularly and repeatedly on a daily basis out of necessity and of whom care professionals, home helpers, or maintenance technicians are good examples.
All these forms of mobility, which consist of travelling to a place of work, either fixed or variable at varying frequencies and distances, are different from those where work and mobility converge to a greater or lesser extent. This is the case of a number of managers who work during their journey by train or plane, but also tourist guides and staff accompanying passenger transport. Finally, assimilation becomes complete for transport professionals (drivers, pilots, delivery agents, sailors and navigators, etc.), whose job is to produce mobility.
Various disciplines have begun to tackle the subject of work-related mobility. Sociology does this in the form of mobility studies, but also analyses that focus more on the content of mobile work itself. Economists are interested in the resources and constraints it entails, their measurable costs and benefits, and the externalities generated by mobility. Research in management sciences explores the new forms of organization that are being set up in companies around the mobile work of employees. Traffic specialists who handle the statistical parameters of mobility deal with specific mobility of particular segments of the population, and in particular with work-related mobility. Cross approaches to historians’ work highlight the relevance of workplace and work-related mobility issues in much older times than is usually imagined.
The purpose of this conference is not only to bring together the results of this research, but also to go beyond it and work to bring together disciplinary perspectives and angles of approach.
To this end, we propose a five-pronged work programme, which will be the structuring moments of the conference:
- How to assess job-related mobility statistically? What statistical knowledge is available on work-related mobility through public statistical systems or other sources, and what analyses are possible on the basis of these quantitative data? How can these quantitative data relate to the qualitative knowledge derived from fieldwork?
- What are the environmental, quality of work, health and safety issues for the occupational groups involved?
- How to classify and typify the different forms of mobility? There are currently five empirically distinguishable cases:
- Mobility like business travel
However, other taxonomy options are possible, particularly on the basis of inductive approaches that take advantage of the accumulation of new materials or new approaches.
- What are the possible ways for a multidisciplinary approach to work-related mobility? How can the different disciplines, those of the humanities and social sciences, but also those of traffic engineering, transport and planning, nature and environment, cooperate and build common forms of understanding, elaborate frontier objects that make it possible to work together, despite the heterogeneity of viewpoints and social worlds of belonging?
- Howcanweinitiateacumulativeapproachtothecollectionandcomparisonof knowledge that is currently disparate, scattered and often isolated? How can we work on an overarching view of the research field represented by work- related mobility studies beyond the multiplication of monographic studies? How can we understand this scientific subject in its entirety and place the study of mobility at the forefront, where it is often treated only as a secondary dimension of work? How can we measure the place and significance of mobility as a component of activity, but also of professional identity? As a first step, work on the widest possible range of occupational groups should be brought together to analyse the role played by work-related mobility in order to approach and compare. * **
Proposals for papers may come from all relevant disciplines. It is expected that, as far as possible, they will be linked to explicitly identified occupational groups, in order to reflect the diverse forms of involvement of mobility in work activities and professional logics.
Proposals must be sent by 15 October 2017 in the form of a 1 page abstract (3,500 characters, including spaces) to the following address:
The final programme of the conference will be determined in early November 2017, but it is possible to register for the conference now by sending an e-mail to the following address :
Participation in the conference is free of charge, but registration is required.
Scientific Committee :
Leslie BELTON CHEVALLIER, (IFSTTAR – DEST) Céline CHOLEZ, (Université de Grenoble) Frédéric De CONINCK Charles GADEA, (IDHES, Université Paris X Nanterre) Reinhard GRESSEL, (IFSTTAR – SPLOTT) Gwenaëlle RATON, (IFSTTAR – SPLOTT)
Robin James SMITH, (Cardiff University) Gerlinde VOGL, (Universität Oldenburg) Lisa WOOD, (Lancaster University)