“I was struggling with my guilt for not being able to log in.” Technostressful constructions of obligation in the digitalized workplace

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This paper examines the construction of obligations that lead to technostress in organizations through a longitudinal case study comprised of personal reflections of a female IT leader over six months, coupled with in-depth interviews. Technostress, defined as any adverse change in attitudes, perceptions, and affects as a result of interacting with and/or through technology; is currently addressed as a psychologically and neurophysiologically quantitively measurable phenomenon (Tarafdar et al., 2019).With this study, we would like to show how a sociology of emotions perspective can add to our understanding of technostress in organizations. In particular, we investigate the role of obligation (Clark, 1990). This emotional blend gives us analytical purchase, in how technostress is constructed or dealt with as a result of covert and perceived obligations in organizations. This is important, as when obligations are discovered and articulated, they leave the social and enter the political arena, where they can be negotiated and appended (Ross, 1970). Among our findings, we see how 1) when technology doesn’t work as expected; it leads to feelings of guilt, shame, self-doubt; 2) the employee identifies with the failure or success of technology; 3) the individual deals with technostress through humor and sarcasm, as she feels that she is not allowed to feel anger or frustration. We show how our obligation driven habits, or emotional responses that go unchallenged in both individuals and organizations can lead to technostress. We contribute to technostress literature by showing how the Sociology of Emotions can provide insights into how and why we construct obligations that lead to technostress, as well as to sociology of emotions by showcasing how Clark’s theory on obligation can be used in the context of the digitalized workplace. References Clark, C. (1990). Emotions and Micropolitics in everyday life: Some patterns and paradoxes of “place.” In Research Agendas in the Sociology of Emotions (pp. 305–333). Ross, R. (1970). Obligation: A social theory. University of Michigan Press. Tarafdar, M., Cooper, C. L., & Stich, J. (2019). The technostress trifecta ‐ techno eustress, techno distress, and design: Theoretical directions and an agenda for research. Information Systems Journal, 29(1), 6–42.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event9th Midterm Conference of the ESA Sociology of Emotions Research Network (RN11) -
Duration: 25 Nov 202027 Nov 2020


Conference9th Midterm Conference of the ESA Sociology of Emotions Research Network (RN11)

ID: 85351264