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From grounded skills to sky qualifications: a study of workers creating and recreating qualifications, identity and gender at an underground iron ore mine in Sweden
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Business Administration, Technology and Social Sciences, Human Work Science.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1367-3277
2006 (English)In: Journal of Industrial Relations, ISSN 0022-1856, E-ISSN 1472-9296, Vol. 48, no 5, p. 657-676Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Over a period of 50 years at Kiruna iron ore mine in the far north of Sweden we can see a transformation of work from underground to remote control at surface level. What characterized the old underground workface was the close relation between man and the hard rock centred on arduous physical work under dangerous conditions. Today, the face miners are located ‘up in the sky' on the seventh level of an office building close to the mine. The workers leave their job at the end of the shift just as clean as when they arrived. The contact with the hard rock is mediated by machines controlled by remote control technology. The modern technology has created a new type of work - new in terms of competencies and knowledge as well as workload. The purpose of this article is to reflect on the technical development of underground mining in Kiruna and to consider the implications it has had on qualifications, identity and gender. There is an emerging, and in many aspects already evident, knowledge transformation - from the old and obsolete physical and tacit knowledge and skills (for example the ability to ‘read the rock') to something new which can be described as abstract knowledge. But the old culture still provides an important context for workplace learning and the construction of identity and gender. This is associated with a degree of ‘worker identity lag' and to difficulties in adapting attitudes and norms to the demands and structures that result from the new technology and the new work tasks. The new forms of work in the mine have less need for the traditional mining competencies, attitudes and ideals. The traditional workplace culture and its ‘macho tyle' have also been challenged. Workers have to find new ways to learn and to develop a workplace culture more attuned to a new type of worker identity and masculinity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2006. Vol. 48, no 5, p. 657-676
National Category
Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
Research subject
Industrial Work Environment
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-8127DOI: 10.1177/0022185606070110Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84992866446Local ID: 6989acd0-e9be-11db-b9a9-000ea68e967bOAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-8127DiVA, id: diva2:981018
Note
Validerad; 2006; 20061204 (kirhon)Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2018-07-10Bibliographically approved

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Abrahamsson, LenaJohansson, Jan

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