Digital technologies are an integral part of our lives, as we use them to work and communicate remotely, access information and entertainment, and pay for a vast range of goods and services. We rely all day long on the internet, on mobile and wearable devices such as smartphones and smart watches, on social media, algorithms, and other digital technologies, platforms, and infrastructures.
While digital technologies are beneficial in many ways, they also erode work-life boundaries, which creates challenges for people:
- Constant connectivity: How may I detach from work or simply focus on what I am presently doing, in a context of 24/7 connectivity?
- Online self-presentation: How should I present myself and interact with others online, where different social contexts collide?
- Privacy: Can we still protect our privacy in a digitised world?
Digital regulation aims at aligning our use of technologies with our needs and values. The Canada Research Chair on Digital Regulation at Work and in Life (2023-2030) investigates how individuals may actively devise and enact strategies and tactics regarding their connectivity, online self-presentation, and privacy, as well as how employers, unions, and policy makers design and implement policies, regulations, and training initiatives on issues such as the right to disconnect, workplace surveillance, algorithmic discriminations, and privacy protection.
The Canada Research Chair on Digital Regulation at Work and in Life analyses:
- Attitudes towards digital technologies.
- Strategies and policies that regulate digital technologies.
- Consequences of digital regulation, or lack of regulation, for individuals, organisations, and society.
Digital regulation has the potential to empower individuals to attain work-life balance and take care of their mental health, remain engaged and focused at work, and safeguard their fundamental human and civil rights. It is also important for organisations because it enhances productivity and team climate, and for societies because individual freedoms increasingly depend on it.
- Context sensitive: the Chair recognizes that attitudes and behaviours regarding technology, work, and life depend on cultural contexts, i.e., shared values and beliefs, and on the country’s legislation and social governance context.
- Interdisciplinary: the Chair is an ambitious endeavour that will move research on the regulation of digital technologies forward and will point out avenues for future research in management, sociology, psychology, information systems, communications, and law.
- Sociomaterial: the Chair adopts a sociomaterial lens, viewing technologies as intrinsically embedded in the society that designs them rather than dissociated from them, and forming a system with it.