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The mining worker of the future – the impact of technology on people and their concepts of work and gender


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Author L Abrahamsson


*This is an abstract only. No full paper is available for
this abstract.*

This presentation considers how changes in technology, work tasks, organisation and applicable qualifications engender both change and restoration in workplaces within the context of underground mining in Sweden. In the mining context modern technologies, such as the internet of things and fully autonomous production units, and organisational concepts such as Lean mining, are challenging the stable stereotype of mining worker masculinity that has long characterised the mining industry. The inherent conservatism within the mining context acts to make the changes, as well as the resistance of those changes, transparent and visible. One effect that advances in technology has is that numerous work tasks that were once performed in the dark, dirty and dangerous underground areas of the mine are now performed in a modern control room above ground. People that work in mines, predominantly men, find themselves in a situation of change: as they move into a high-tech, and what might be conceptualised as a form of white-collar, work environment they must abandon the old embedded mining worker roles and concepts of work. A consequence of the new technology in combination with new organisational models, the homosocial workers collective system and the concepts of mining worker masculinity of the past becomes obsolete and therefore challenged. Many of the miners, almost exclusively men, now need to find new ways of forming work identities and gender, and ‘cracks’ occur, cracks where something new and more inclusive may emerge.


Abrahamsson, L, 2017. The mining
worker of the future – the impact of technology on people and their concepts of
work and gender, in Proceedings 13th AusIMM Underground Operators’ Conference
2017, pp 3–4 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).