Shaping Boundaries within the Flow: Workspaces, Environments, Identities

By Loni Davis, Jeremy J. Shapiro and Frederick Steier.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores how, within the flow and its technology-enabled eradication or blurring of boundaries, individuals and groups create new workspaces, environments, and identities through constructing new, albeit provisional and porous boundaries. Following Manuel Castells’s observation that “wireless communication technologies diffuse the networking logic of social organization and social practice everywhere, to all contexts—on condition of being on the mobile Net”, we observe how people are dealing, from inside the flow, with technology-enabled boundary loss and, simultaneously constructing new, albeit porous boundaries to enact new workspaces, environments, and identities, as well as with the loss and refashioning of traditional “third places” (Oldenburg) occasioned by that boundary loss. As the flow surges through knowledge workers and citizens today through the increasing ubiquity of the Internet and mobile technologies, pre-flow workplaces, environments, and identities are being replaced by work-space-flows, liquid environments, and multiple co-existing identities.

Keywords: Boundaries, Mobile, Technology, Workspace, Environments, Identities

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.71-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.426MB).

Loni Davis

PhD Candidate, School of Human and Organizational Development, Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Loni Davis is a PhD candidate in the School of Human & Organization Development at Fielding Graduate University (FGU). Her research is focused on studying the ecology of mobile workplace, particularly in terms of blurring boundaries, the intertwining of the social and technical, and increasing use of “third places” for work. Ms. Davis has worked as an organization development (OD) consultant for a variety of profit and non-profit, national and international organizations in the health care, education and technology sectors providing services in organizational design, large-scale change and leadership development.

Dr. Jeremy J. Shapiro

Professor, School of Human and Organization Development, Fielding Graduate University, Santa Barbara, California, USA

Jeremy J. Shapiro is professor of human and organization development at Fielding Graduate University and active there in the Information Society and Knowledge Organizations concentration. He is co-author of Mindful Inquiry in Social Research (1998) and has published and presented a number of papers on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of information technology and systems from the perspective of a critical theory of society.

Dr. Frederick Steier

Professor, Department of Communication, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, USA

Frederick Steier is on the faculty of the Department of Communication at the University of South Florida. He is the editor of the recent volume Gregory Bateson: Essays for an Ecology of Ideas (Imprint Academic, 2005) and is currently enjoying being a scientist-in-residence at the Center for Learning at the Museum of Science and Industry in Tampa, Florida, USA, where he is involved in participatory action research oriented studies of collaborative learning and play. He received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in Social Systems Sciences in 1983. In 1985–86, he had the honor being a King Olav V Fellow at the University of Oslo through the American-Scandinavian Foundation.