Organising flexible working spaces through techno-social networks: The case of door systems in hackerspaces

This paper should be interesting for any scholar who is curious about the role of innovation in configuring the relationship between society, organisations and ICT infrastructures. I expand a case study of a material artefact through its use to the description of an organisation which is contextualised in the wider structural transformations of capitalism. Therefore the methodological challenge is to study instances of social innovation in a way which can find material-organic connections between the micro-level ethnographic analysis and the macro-level sociological data. I ask “How participation in hacker clubs is organised in response to changing social conditions, through conventions and technologies?” Following the question, the three units of analysis to address are the changing conditions in society as a whole, the hacker clubs as organisations in the middle range, and finally the case study of techno-social means through which participation is organised. The empirically based theory of the network society stands in for the “changing social conditions”, while “hacker clubs” are studied through the North European hackerspaces scene, and “organisation through conventions and technologies” is investigated through a case study of the door systems they employ. In the conclusion, hackerspaces appear as sites where privileged urban flexible labourers (ICT workers) organise themselves using technology and culture, according to the principles of the project order and the network organisation, amidst a contemporary capitalism which seeks to separate them in space and time. Such findings are contrasted with historical changes in regimes of work discipline and capital accumulation.