For dwelling and for governance: the mobile phone in mobile work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


The social differentiation of mobile work is complex. While some people are in a position of control over, and initiate, mobilities, others are captivated by it (Massey 1994). The focus of this WP is transport workers, those who provide mobility: truck drivers, cycle couriers and uber drivers. It is inspired by previous studies of less privileged workers in the power geometry of mobile work: of seafarers (Sampson 2003; Sampson et al 2018), , truck drivers (Novoa 2014; Gregson 2017, 2018), flight attendants (Williams, 2003; Lin 2015), bike couriers (Kidder 2006). In similarity with some of these studies, see especially Gregson (2018), the focus here is on the interplay between mobility and immobility; how transport work is an oscillation between work and pause; mobility and stillness. Entanglements of ‘on the move’ and waiting. The stillness is important in order to understand mobilities and mobile relations: “in an epoch that privileges the mobilization of mobility, still has been stilled; turned into a stop that is just waiting to go again. Waiting to be re-moved” (Bissell & Fuller 2015: 3). For truckdrivers stillness is a valuable thing; an opening for turning the cabin into space of habitation with food, kettle, books, magazines etc (Gregson 2018). The mobile phone, representing an environment of communicative opportunities (Madianou 2014), is less studied in this particular context. For truckdrivers, couriers and uber taxi drivers the mobile phone is the connection with the head quarter (command center), representing surveillance, control, governance. Yet, the very same device has the potential of providing sociality, contacts with friends and family during moments of stillness. The wp will will focus on the mobile phone as a boundary object, i.e. as essential for the mobile labour as well as for the dwelling-in mobility. Multiple interviews and ethnographical observations (shadowing) will be conducted with five truck drivers, five cycle couriers (delivering food, and five drivers of uber taxi will be involved in the study.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 May 7
Publication categoryResearch
EventGeomedia 2019 International Conference: Revisiting the Home - Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden
Duration: 2019 May 72019 May 10


ConferenceGeomedia 2019 International Conference
Internet address