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DISENTANGLING PATTERNS OF A NOMADIC LIFE

Authors

  • Tracy L. Meerwarth

    1. Cultural Anthropologist and Contract Researcher, General Motors Corporation, Detroit, Michigan and Owner, Consolidated Bearings Company, Cedar Knolls, New Jersey
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Abstract

As a corporate anthropologist who studies how work gets accomplished in the spaces and places workers inhabit, I have become keenly aware of the patterns of behaviors and emotions that arise from my experience as a nomadic worker. The term nomadic comprehends the multiple and geographically distributed sites across a landscape where work gets accomplished. The term suggests a rhythm of movement during which time workers are enabled by technology to pull away from a centralized core and travel across the landscape with homes and work on their backs. In this article, I explore reconceptualizations of physical space (e.g., home, away, and transitional) and the shifting changes in relationships (e.g., with communities, friends), which emerge with my increased mobility. I argue that although the media illustrates the seamlessness and ease of social integration and mobility that technology offers, it is often a distortion of a nomadic worker's reality. Personal conflict and tension often arise when trying to manage culturally valued concepts such as integration and mobility simultaneously. I deconstruct my conflict and identify areas for growth in my experience as a nomadic worker.

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