Date of Award
Campus Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In recent years, understanding digital technology and trends in its transformation is crucial for comprehending principles of contemporary work, yet the mode of digital existence has not been specified clearly for both research theory and method. This dissertation is composed of five inter-textualized chapters to examine the relationships among work, technology, and organizations in two dimensions through (1) the phenomenological investigation of how technology works in business organizations and society and (2) the epistemological consideration of how scholarly research paradigms and methods align with organizational and social changes impacted by technology.
To explore how digital technology work, I review labor process theory (LPT), which is one of the ground theories explaining how technological advancement is related to industrial relations from a critical perspective. By elaborating on this theory, I examine how digital platform technology reshapes capitalistic tensions over control and rewards from a political economy perspective. Yet, my examination of digital technology is not limited to evaluating its normative and deontological concerns based on social constructivism; rather it has been shifting to discuss the methodology and epistemology of the LPT paradigm. I assess how the theoretical framework of LPT can explain the impacts of digital technology, which may not be fully represented in the empirically observable dimension when digital technology unexpectedly and extensively reconstructs time, place, and materiality, going beyond our understanding of technologies in the previous industrial relations. By reflecting on these changes in the mode of things’ existence, I argue that there is a need to examine how the scholarly theories and methods have been constructed and how these can be updated to capture the newly emerging digital context.
To illustrate an alternative approach to the digital realm, I construct a curated case of instruction set architecture (ISA) as a fundamental and atomic level of the representation of “socio-material relations” between workers and technology in the concluding chapter. Although this dissertation may not fully identify the ontological constitution of digital reality, it can be a foundational work to continue seeking an undiscovered digital realm that we may not even imagine based on our current epistemological criterion.
Chai, Sunyu, "Exploring Relations of Work, Organization, and Technology in Contemporary Society" (2022). Graduate Doctoral Dissertations. 802.