History has taught us that the social norm is to work 9-5. In primary school we were taught to obey our teacher, sit up straight and place our hands on the desk which are all characteristics of the industrial workforce. Lets now jump to the present were we are seeing a dramatic shift in the workforce known as casualisation. This versatile workforce now expects employees to be available 24/7 and technology has allowed this to happen. The homogenization of networks has decreased time and space meaning you are never in one place at the one time. 10 years ago the average routine of an employed citizen would be to wake up, get ready for work, travel to work and then only begin work related activities ‘at work’, that’s 9 – 5.
However society today is part of a dramatic paradigm shift that is breaking away from the preconceived ideas that reflected the industrial workforce, and moving onto a fundamental shift known as knowledge production. In turn this means that our routine now consists of anticipatory labour; checking emails and preparing for work and the notion of liquid labour; the convergence production (work) and consumption (life) (Deuze 2006). This liquid life is a precious life, lived under conditions of constant uncertainty (Deuze 2006). Thus the 9-5 workday has become obsolete and society now follows the norm of a portfolio work life.
Bouncing back on the casualisation in the workforce, I was shocked to discover the fear and uncertainty university academics suffer prior to semester. An article by Grahame McCulloch outlines how Sharni Chan and expert in politics and public policy is on the brink of homelessness due to the casual work she has been offered by the University of Sydney. Chan fears that now in her final year of her PHD and after 10 years of casual academia she does not have a career to show of.
I’d also like to reflect on a personal incident regarding university tutors and their ability to connect to students. Twitter is the desired form of communication between tutor and student, personally I was worried that my question might get lost in the twittersphere, however within 1 minute of a question being asked my tutors replied. I was amazed at the speed of the reply because it was sent after uni hours and I also considered the ‘space’ the tweet was sent. This directly reflects the notion of liquid labour were work is not only done at work but converged with life. I’d also like to introduce a term called presence bleed; were one is never in once place at the one time. For example you may be at home having a conversation with your family but at the same time replying to a tweet sent to you by a student.
Casualisation of the workforce does not end at academics. Economists warn of a growing trend of casualisation in the Australian workforce and for more information follow this link.
Are we the beginning of a new generation of workers who will be juggling casual employment, blog or other form of online occupation, freelance work, a social life, a family and bills. It’s scary to think that soon we’ll be the ones applying for job after job and burdened by the insecurity of casual employment.
I’d like to hear what your thoughts are regarding this issue and if you’re as scared as I am?!?
Deuz, M 2006, Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work, March 19, Indiana University.