CFP> Mobile Work-Life Arrangements: Exploring conceptual and methodological challenges

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Mobile Work-Life Arrangements: Exploring conceptual and methodological challenges.

 An Interdisciplinary Late-Summer School

9-18 October, 2015
University of Freiburg, Germany

Convened by: COME (Research Group Cultures of Mobility in Europe) and ANTHROMOB (EASA Anthropology and Mobility Network)

Anna Lipphardt (Freiburg); Jamie Coates (Waseda/Sheffield) and Roger Norum (Leeds/UCL)

Funded by Volkswagen Foundation

The interdisciplinary field of mobility studies has produced a broad spectrum of theoretical works and structural analyses, driven by research focusing on recent innovation in transport and communication. Within that field, economic and work-related aspects of mobility, are often treated as distinct from other life practices. This late-summer school aims to contribute to the field of mobility studies with respect to two key issues: First, it will turn attention to the interplay between work and non-work (e.g. leisure, family life, well-being) spheres of life linked to mobility. Second, it focuses on the complexities of mobile work-life arrangements as they play out in the everyday lives of an ever-growing number of people worldwide, across the economic spectrum and across diverse professional and socio-cultural fields.
The late-summer school explicitly aims to bring together people studying a range of empirical cases including (but not limited to) research across the following subjects:

  • peripatetic and pastoralist groups
  • transport-sector professionals
  • artists, creatives and travelling entertainers
  • seasonal and project-based labourers
  • academics
  • lifestyle migrants

The late-summer school has two core objectives:

1. Providing a forum for discussing qualitative methodological approaches to mobility, including multi-sited, mobile or trajectory ethnography; life-course and life-world analyses; and newly-emerging ICT-based methods;

2. Exploring the differing forms of knowledge production concomitant with mobile work-life arrangements, it will encourage a critical reflection of the theoretical frameworks, empirical operationalisations and political discourses that implicitly or explicitly inform much research on mobile groups. Our intention is to bring together different epistemic communities, thus fostering a comparative perspective.

Key questions which the late-summer school will address are:

  • How do we develop a critical analytical position in light of the complex entanglements between the political and economic discourses on certain mobile groups, the conceptual approaches of our respective research disciplines, and the emic perspectives of the people we study?
  • What are the advantages, challenges, and limitations of differing analytical models such as multi-sited ethnography, qualitative case study, life-course analysis, or phenomenology in exploring mobile work-life arrangements?
  • How can we compare or generalise insights gained from qualitative studies on specific mobile fields? And how can we employ empirical research to advance theoretical stances on mobility, both within a given research area and across disciplinary divides?

The programme includes keynote lectures and advanced seminars by Noel Salazar (University of Leuven), Michaela Benson (Goldsmiths University) and Huub van Baar (University of Amsterdam/Giessen University). It also comprises presentations by doctoral students, workshops on mobile methods and representational strategies, informal discussions on practical issues of mobile/multi-sited fieldwork, career and professional development sessions, a film screening, and recreational activities. The working language is English.

The programme is aimed at doctoral students working on projects situated in qualitative social research focusing on issues related to mobile work-life arrangements. The common ground for all participants will be their interest in the labour/economic aspects of the mobile empirical fields they study, their footing in qualitative social research, and a shared interest in the epistemology of Mobility Studies. We welcome applications from doctoral students based in disciplines such as cultural and social anthropology, sociology, political science, social work, education, geography, and relevant interdisciplinary research fields including mobility, communication, environmental, transport and labour studies. Doctoral students at any stage of their research – including beginners – are invited to present work in progress and to discuss central research issues with which they are currently concerned. To ensure an open and collaborative learning environment, the number of participants will be limited to a maximum of 25.

Interested applicants are asked to submit the following materials to the convenors by email up until August 10, 2015:

1. Curriculum Vitae (1 page);
2. Short description of your dissertation project (1-2 pages);
3. Personal statement (1-2 pages) that answers the following:
– Why do you wish to attend the Mobile Work-Life Arrangements Late-Summer School?
– What specific aspects of your dissertation and fieldwork are you most interested in discussing?

Successful applicants will be notified by email by the 3rd week of August.

It is expected that participants take part in the full duration of the late-summer school. All meals and accommodation will be covered, as will reimbursement for the following travel expenses: up to 150 Euro for participants from Germany; up to 300 Euro for those from other European countries; and up to 800 Euro for students who come from overseas. Participants from developing countries and from countries affected by current economic crises are eligible to apply for full travel funding.

For more information, please see Please feel free to contact us for specific questions about the programme or application.

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