Everyday rituals and digital tech in the families of mobile workers

Quotidian Ritual and Work-Life Balance: An Ethnography of Not Being There
Jo-Anne Richard and Paulina Yurman (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art)
David Kirk and David Chatting (Culture Lab, Newcastle University)
Paper presented at the EPIC Conference, New York, September 2014

This paper reports on current interdisciplinary design research that explores values held by individuals in their performance of everyday or ‘quotidian’ rituals in family life. The work is focused on mobile workers who may be away from home and family for extended and/or regular periods of time. During the course of the research, a key hurdle that has arisen has revolved around gaining access to families for the purpose of conducting traditional ethnographic studies. For many mobile workers who are separated from the family on a regular basis, the idea of having an ethnographic researcher present during what becomes very limited and therefore sacrosanct family time has proved difficult to negotiate. Therefore the design researchers have had to develop more designerly means of engagement with ‘the field site’ through a series of design interventions that effectively provide forms of ethnographic data when both the researcher and the researched are away from the field site, namely the family home.