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Technological Tethering, Cohort Effects, and the Work-Family Interface

Sat, August 12, 8:30 to 9:30am, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 517B


This paper examines work-related communication and inter-role conflict between job and home contexts among workers of different cohorts. Using data from the 2011 CANWSH survey (N=4,570), this study investigates Canadian workers’ level of work-to-family conflict associated with the rising expectations of constant connectivity, that is “technological tethering”, in the workforce. I take a life course perspective to examine whether being in the digital native cohort (born in 1980 or later) moderates the relationship between job contact outside of regular work hours and work-to-family conflict, while controlling for the competing roles of being a partner, caregiver, and worker which accumulate within different life stages. Digital natives have uniquely experienced technology and the Internet as a fundamental part of their learning, culture, and labour while growing up, which distinguishes them from their digital immigrant counterparts. As such, assumptions have emerged regarding the heightened ability of younger workers to adapt to higher communication demands delivered via work extending technologies. Results demonstrate that, contrary to the hypothesis, digital native status does not weaken the relationship between job contact and work-to-family conflict when controlling for life stage. This null finding showing a lack of cohort differences is robust for the full sample as well as for those working within higher status (and higher contact) executive/professional occupations. Implications for theoretical views about digital natives and communication practices in the workforce, and their relevance to the work-family interface, are discussed.


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