Agentic interplay between hybridity and liminality in contemporary boundary work

Nov 1st, 2023 | By | Category: RSS Feed


There is no doubt that digital technologies have an impact on boundary work, that is, the practices individuals develop to work up boundaries between ‘work’ and ‘life’. However, related research is still dominated by the integration–segmentation framework which may restrict our understanding of contemporary practice. To address this limitation, we use the concepts of hybridity (fusion) and liminality (in-betweenness) in combination to explore how their interplay may promote more nuanced accounts of how individuals work up their boundaries in contemporary everyday life. Our analysis of video diaries and follow-up interviews undertaken by 30 UK-based workers reveals an ‘agentic interplay’ of hybridity and liminality that is understood as an ongoing dynamic practice, sometimes enabling and sometimes undermining desired boundary work outcomes. We make three contributions, collectively offering a critical advancement in the work–life debate and the hybridity and liminality literatures: (a) further developing an understanding of boundary work as situated, creative and dynamic; (b) unpacking the agentic potential of the ‘black box’ of the hybridity–liminality interplay; and (c) expanding current understandings and applications of the concepts of hybridity and liminality.


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