Digital transformation and power relations. Interpretative repertoires of digitalization in the Swedish steel industry

Anette Hallin, Eva Lindell, Bosse Jonsson, Anna Uhlim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This study focuses on how ideas of ‘digitalization’ are discursively constructed in the Swedish steel industry. Using a discursive psychology approach, we identify seven interpretative repertoires in the discursive practicing of digitalization: everyone-else, speed, competition, job loss, control, safety, and equality. Examining their functions and effects, we show that not only is digital transformation constructed as more productive, efficient, competitive, technologically advanced, safe, and equal, it also involves a shift towards the blue-collar worker being more vulnerable; a construction where she is able-minded but lonely, physically fragile, obtuse and unreliable, and a victim of a development beyond her control, forcing of her to acquire new competence. We conclude that this reproduces asymmetrical power relations between workers and companies, pushing the challenges of digital transformation to the workers. At the same time, we also see how these local discourses hold a possibility of tempering this asymmetry through the construct of togetherness of different contexts, bodies, and hierarchal levels, thus connecting steel industry workers of the future through the use of digital technology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101183
JournalScandinavian Journal of Management
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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