| 24.01.2023

Doctoral thesis: Social media blurs the boundaries of work

Social media has become an integral part of today’s social life because it provides a space where people can interact with each other and with technologies such as algorithms across physical distance and other boundaries. These platforms can have a distinctly blurring impact also on contemporary work and organisational contexts in which they are increasingly used.

“Many of us live large chunks of our lives online, communicating through our mobile phone screens, our interactions enabled by social media platforms”, Anna Maaranen argues in her doctoral thesis ‘Socio-technological encounters and new discursive dynamics in social media spaces’. She claims that on social media – which range from established giants like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to trending platforms like TikTok and BeReal – new dynamics of interaction emerge.

"What this means is that the ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘by whom’ of interaction change on social media where interaction increasingly takes place within various online platforms, between humans and technologies, and through different, digitally mediated and multimodal – verbal, visual, and technological – means."

Maaranen argues that social media and these new dynamics obscure the borders of what is considered organisational space and time and what belongs to the overall domain of work. For example, social media and the mobile devices they are used on enable work-related interactions both at workplaces and at home, during work hours and outside of them.

Moreover, the language assimilates as same platforms and modes of communication such as emoji are used for both personal and professional communication. Social media also open up ‘organisational matters’ for online scrutiny. Workplace issues such as inequalities, or internal change processes such as mergers, are increasingly exposed to the public eye and discussed in open online arenas. As such, organisational matters can blend into wider societal discussions.

“Work and organisation increasingly take place in space, time, and language traditionally considered ‘extra-organisational’”, Maaranen summarises.
In her thesis she offers examples of topical phenomena such as the #MeToo hashtag movement and its impact on offline workplace realities, and the overlapping personal and professional lives on politicians’ social media profiles.

The thesis is available here: Socio-technological encounters and new discursive dynamics in social media spaces

The doctoral defence of Anna Maaranen takes place on Friday, 27 January at 12:00 EEST at Hanken School of Economics.
You can participate via Teams.
Opponent: Sine Nørholm Just, Professor, Roskilde University
Chair: Janne Tienari, Professor, Hanken School of Economics