Conference Agenda

RN19_03: Digitalization in the Field of Professional Work
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Christiane Schnell, Institut für Sozialforschung an der Goethe Universität Frankfurt
Location: BS.3.28
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Third Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road


Data Science – The Answer To Everything, But What’s The Question?

Christopher Zirnig

Universität Hohenheim, Germany

The rapidly progressing datafication leads to a shift in the demands on employees. We will show that this change on the one hand leads to new negotiations of spheres of competences and authorities at the organizational level and on the other hand to negotiations of new capability profiles and subsequently changes in training and education contents and strategies.

The requirements of many jobs today range from creative handling of unstructured data, to an economically useful interpretation of data and to the communication of results in the various areas of the company and beyond. This creates new necessities of cooperation and communication that are often not anchored in organizations, which leads to new responsibilities. The answer to this new challenge seems to have been found in the job profile of the "data scientist", who as an all-rounder combines all the necessary skills. However, our qualitative data show that it is an ongoing negotiation as to what skills are actually in demand. Should data scientists be "translators" who extract information from data provided by the IT specialists and thus create a new level of communication within the organization? Or is a data scientist him/herself an IT specialist with special communication skills? Hence, wide-ranging and unstructured training offers arise. For employees, this means that there are no ready-made career paths and investment in education is characterized by uncertainty. The purpose of this work in progress is to clarify and analyse these imponderables on the part of companies, trainers and employees on the basis of further data.

Digital Professionalism – Opportunities and Barriers in the Care of Older People.

Helena Hirvonen

University of Eastern Finland, Finland

In aging societies scarcity of public resources motivates the development of welfare service efficiency. Digitalisation of public service work is one of the factors currently influencing public policy-making by restructuring and recreating public sector institutions, including its professions. In the context of care services for older people, public service professions are expected to demonstrate trust, transparency and accountability to care managers and clients alike. New technologies are implemented with expectations of delivering these goals in an efficient and standardized manner. Meanwhile, they raise new demands about the skills and role of public service professionals.

My presentation discusses the above developments in the context of care of older people in Finland. What are the opportunities and barriers digitalization poses to meaningful professional agency for care professionals in long-term care (LTC) work? The analysis is based on a qualitative interview data (n=25) collected in 2018 from registered nurses and practical nurses in Finnish LTC units. Focus on this group is important for two reasons. First, workers in LTC report high levels of work-related stress. Second, due to introduction of enterprising ideals in the management of care services, care professionals face expectations as being proactive and self-steering individuals. Preliminary results of my study suggest that digital professionalism is currently a strong managerial discourse implemented ‘from above’. Nurses, however, remain critical about its possibilities especially in promoting trust between them and service users. This suggests that the promotion of digital professionalism supports organizational rather than professional forms of occupational control.

Modernization of Professions and Specialties. Transformation from Offline to Online Ones: Russian Case in the World’s Tendency

Elena Shatrova

State Academic University for the Humanities / Institute of Sociology Russian Academy of Sciences, Russian Federation

Today in the modern Russian society many kinds of different offline professions can be replaced by the online ones. This transformation takes a place by the performance of the technological and digital progress. Many new resources and opportunities are becoming available by the development of the internet and new electronic devices.

In Russia people are able to do daily necessary things just with the help of a computer or even a smartphone connected with the net. So there is even no need to leave the house, especially it is a great benefit for the people with limited mobility because of different reasons: disabled people, people with little children, people living in a remote regions etc. So that’s why this digital breakthrough is of a great interest of sociologists.

Moreover, the world of professions has also changed and the same categories of people are able now to work like all other people. Employees have bigger choice (working online) and employers can get a better worker even if he lives in another city or country. But the question is if it’s already the time when there is almost no need in offline workers, or there is just a tendency of transforming offline professions into online ones. We have conducted the study with interesting results using the content analysis method to find out if the online world of professions has overcome the offline one.

Beyond Professional Employment: What Do the Young Want?

Marina Khokhlova

Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Scienses, Russian Federation

In Russia, present day possibilities, in particular those offered by the National Digital Economy programme, as well as the availability of IT specialists and advanced technologies in this field, inspire optimism regarding motivated professional employment of young people in the regions of Russia. This enables them, in particular, to work remotely, which reduces differentiation between regions in terms of average pay.

According to polls conducted in the regions of Russia in 2016 and 2017, the employment problem is indeed perceived by young people as an important modulator of their lives. It is important to note that there was no direct correlation of the replies of respondents who are satisfied with the situation and objective indicators of the lack of relevant vacancies in their respective regions. This means that people tend to assess similar situations differently, which results from the following: between the regions, in spite of common institutions, language, historical and cultural legacy, the conditions of socialisation for young people vary from region to region and as a result the young people are not at a similar starting point when it comes to implementing whatever they have planned for themselves in terms of their lives and career. This proves that pay alone is not sufficient and they need the “full package” (e.g. quality of life, availability of cultural and educational institutions, social interaction) to obtain “the feeling of happiness”. The lack of professional opportunities is a self-evident fact and an essential prerequisite for a young person to participate in the community and the society, but it is not enough to have a job; their requirements are broader, which is demonstrated indirectly by the poll data.