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Learning to inhabit the liquid liminal world of work: An auto-ethnographic visual study of work-life boundary transitions

Izak, Michal; Shortt, Harriet; Case, Peter

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Authors

Michal Izak

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Harriet Shortt Harriet.Shortt@uwe.ac.uk
Associate Professor in Organisation Studies



Abstract

This article explores a conceptually modified notion of liminality in order to make better sense of contemporary ‘flexible’ working life. Previous conceptualizations of liminality rely on the assumed existence of socially sustained boundaries and the possibility of boundary spanning. Under conditions of liquid modernity, however, boundaries or thresholds have been destabilized to the point of collapse. Nonetheless, individuals still feel the need to establish and maintain intersubjective boundaries to preserve their own sense of well-being. To understand the new predicament faced by employees, we reconceptualise liminality for liquid times – through the notion of liquid liminality – and, simultaneously, problematize dominant conceptions of work-life balance. The implications that liquid liminality carries for the notion of flexible knowledge work are discussed. Our auto-ethnographic visual study of an academic returning from maternity leave uses a socio-material lens to exemplify the struggles of the contemporary flexible knowledge worker. It also demonstrates how the constant transition between workplace and home life is freighted with anxiety and exhaustion. We also outline opportunities for establishing new learning habits that follow from our theoretical framing and empirical analysis.

Citation

Izak, M., Shortt, H., & Case, P. (2023). Learning to inhabit the liquid liminal world of work: An auto-ethnographic visual study of work-life boundary transitions. Management Learning, 54(2), 198–222. https://doi.org/10.1177/13505076211070359

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 13, 2021
Online Publication Date Feb 21, 2022
Publication Date Apr 1, 2023
Deposit Date Feb 21, 2022
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2022
Journal Management Learning
Print ISSN 1350-5076
Electronic ISSN 1461-7307
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 2
Pages 198–222
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/13505076211070359
Keywords Auto-ethnographic visual study, flexible work, liminality, knowledge work, learning, liquid modernity, sociomateriality
Public URL https://uwe-repository.worktribe.com/output/9046807

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Learning to inhabit the liquid liminal world of work: An auto-ethnographic visual study of work-life boundary transitions (903 Kb)
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Licence
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This is the authors accepted version of the article 'Izak, M., Shortt, H., & Case, P. (2023). Learning to inhabit the liquid liminal world of work: An auto-ethnographic visual study of work-life boundary transitions. Management Learning, 54(2), 198–222'.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13505076211070359

The final published version is available here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/13505076211070359







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