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Changing Global Work Environments: The History of Technology, Gender and Emotions since the 1960s

Local cooperation partner: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christiane Berth, Institute of History
Junior Fellow: Nina Jahrbacher

Incoming Senior Fellow: Prof. Dr. Martina Heßler, TU Darmstadt, Prof. Suzanne Moon, PhD, University of Oklahoma
Incoming Junior Fellows: tba

Duration: February 2022 to December 2023
Symposium: planned for July 2023


The aim of the project is to analyze the relationship between digital technology, gender and emotions in three different work environments:

  • In office work with a focus on the introduction of computers and the transformation of communication through new software as well as emails.
  • In agriculture, with a focus on the use of digital technologies for food distribution and storage.
  • In industry with a focus on the debates around automation.

The comparison of developments in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America enables conclusions to be drawn about different time courses, global inequality in access to technology, and the diverse shaping of gender roles. In doing so, the fellows work on three guiding questions:

  1. What emotional reactions did the introduction of digital technology provoke? What cultural differences existed in the process?
  2. How did emotional debates influence technology use in the workplace?
  3. How did the introduction of digital technology affect gender relations in the workplace?

In this project, the concepts of emotional community and emotional regime will be examined and further developed in terms of their usefulness for the historical development of work environments. It will be analyzed whether the use of digital technology led to the emergence of emotional communities in the workplace. Following the concept of emotional regimes, it will be worked out which emotional reactions to digital technology were considered acceptable and therefore articulated more strongly by employees than others. For both approaches, it is to be discussed whether the emotional communities and emotional regimes were differentiated according to gender, hierarchy and ethnicity.

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