The Contested Terrain of Social Media at Work

The use of multi-platform, socially networked, and mobile technologies by both workers and employers is a significant contributing factor to a more flexible labour market. Debates about what is appropriate, normative or legitimate are being played out across popular media, and in courts, companies and employment tribunals. This project involves a survey of 2,000 working-age adults in the UK and Australia which examined three primary sources of contestation: employer profiling, disparaging posts and blogs, and private use of social media during work time. Evidence was found for the characteristics of organisations which have developed social media policies, and the extent and nature of strategies used by employers/managers to monitor and enforce expectations. More broadly, the findings point to wider moves by employers to codify and subsequently impose expanded spheres of behavioural regulation associated with online conduct.

Professor Paul Thompson (Stirling University, UK), Dr Peter O’Connor (QUT Business School)