Informational Boundary Work in Everyday Life

  • Pamela J. McKenzieEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 12051)


Everyday life often requires a great deal of work to manage the multiple domains that comprise it (e.g., paid work, family care, household maintenance, body and health management, leisure, education, social life, and community or religious involvement). This “boundary work” includes the ongoing categorization of life domains, the establishment and negotiation of boundary permeability, and the crossing of boundaries. The boundaries between the domains of everyday life are negotiated differently by different people and by the same person over time as life circumstances change. Information Science research tends to dichotomize “everyday life” and workplace information practices. Scholars seeking to understand the character of everyday life information practices must attend to the informational work required to (a) place, maintain, and challenge boundaries among life domains, and (b) orchestrate the bridging or crossing of those boundaries. This paper uses the example of keeping track of municipal waste collection to explore the informational work of managing, maintaining, and crossing boundaries in everyday life. Some participants recorded “garbage day” in centrally-located personal information management (PIM) tools shared with household members. By doing so, they integrated the task of waste disposal into an everyday life with other household members that included multiple domains, including paid work. Others’ approaches categorized waste collection as separate from the inside life of the household. The study provides evidence that participants engaged in boundary work within their non-work lives, beyond simply establishing boundaries between work and home.


Personal information management Everyday life Information practices Categorization Work-life balance Boundary work 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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