Workplace Learning through Human‐Machine Interaction in a Transient Multilingual Blue‐Collar Work Environment

Daan Hovens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Web of Science)


This article explores processes of jointly negotiating work practices (i.e., workplace learning) in a contemporary blue‐collar work environment characterized by transience, language diversity, and limited opportunities for human‐human interaction. The article is based on linguistic‐ethnographic fieldwork in a metal foundry in the Dutch‐German borderland, where many employees have temporary contracts and diverse language backgrounds, and where many production tasks are delegated to machines. The article shows that human‐machine interaction, combined with a newcomer’s ability to observe and hypothesize, can fulfill vital functions for workplace learning processes, while the temporariness of work relations can demotivate employees to invest in these processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-388
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Issue number3
Early online date5 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2020


  • blue-collar workplace
  • community of practice
  • human-machine interaction
  • multilingualism
  • spatial repertoire
  • transience
  • workplace learning
  • Blue-Collar-Arbeitsplatz
  • Lernen im Prozess der Arbeit (Workplace Learning)
  • Community of Practice
  • Kurzlebigkeit
  • Mensch-Maschine-Interaktion

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