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Metaphysical labour - Flexibility, performance and commitment in work-life management

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This thesis offers a critical contribution to the theories of work-life balance. Within thecontemporary theoretical perspectives on work and life the individuals are constructedas being responsible for work-life balance by turning it into a problem of the personalbehaviour, decisions, psychological traits and family condition of the human subject.In this sense the everyday problem of balancing between work and home is reduced tobe primarily an individual problem and decision. When the problem of work-lifebalance is raised in this way, it is difficult for companies to offer managerial andorganizational solutions that do not automatically exclude this as an individual problem.It might be possible for managers and organizations to help the employees in achievingwork-life balance, but it is fundamentally a challenge that the individual employeesmust solve.The thesis offers a different perspective on the relation between work and life. Thisperspective is not based upon the individual employees’ perception and henceconstitution of work-life balance. Instead, it is argued that the constitution of therelation of work and life is to be found in its effects. These effects are not established inthe constitution of the boundary between work and home, but are rather recognized byhow the employees determine and define activities and tasks as work. For example, is itwork to send email in the evening? Is it work to read an article at the weekend? Is itwork to update a profile on Facebook? The question is therefore ‘what is work?’ and not‘what is the boundary between work and home?’

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Anders Raastrup Kristensen

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