‘Mental mobility’ in the digital age: entrepreneurs and the online home-based business

DiDomenico, MariaLaura; Daniel, Elizabeth and Nunan, Daniel (2014). ‘Mental mobility’ in the digital age: entrepreneurs and the online home-based business. New Technology, Work and Employment, 29(3) pp. 266–281.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12034

Abstract

Home-based online business ventures are an increasingly pervasive, yet under-researched phenomenon. The experiences and mindset of entrepreneurs setting-up and running such enterprises requires better understanding. Using data from a qualitative study of twenty-three online home-based business entrepreneurs, we propose the augmented concept of ‘mental mobility’ to encapsulate how they approach their business activities. Drawing on Howard P. Becker’s early theorizing of mobility, together with Victor Turner’s later notion of liminality, we conceptualize ‘mental mobility’ as the process through which individuals navigate the liminal spaces between the physical and digital spheres of work, and the overlapping home/workplace, enabling them to manipulate and partially reconcile the spatial, temporal and emotional tensions that are present in such work environments. Our research also holds important applications for alternative employment contexts and broader social orderings due to the increasingly pervasive and disruptive influence of technology on experiences of remunerated work.

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