BORIS Theses

BORIS Theses
Bern Open Repository and Information System

Digitalization in the mountains : digital transformations and digital multilocality in Swiss mountain areas

Bürgin, Reto (2021). Digitalization in the mountains : digital transformations and digital multilocality in Swiss mountain areas. (Thesis). Universität Bern, Bern

21buergin_r.pdf - Thesis
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works (CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (13MB) | Preview


A large part of the Swiss territory is located on mountainous terrain. The mountain areas attract numerous domestic as well as foreign guests pursuing their leisure activities or enjoying the beauty of nature. However, there is much more behind the idyllic mountain scenery. The mountain areas are important living and economic areas that also contribute to the national identity. Digitalization is also not passing by mountain areas unnoticed. It raises numerous questions about broadband Internet access and the use of digital technologies in peripheral mountain areas. In this dissertation, I explore precisely such questions and try to find answers. The dissertation suggests that digital transformation in mountain areas does not emerge as a uniform process. Rather, the interviews conducted in a case study in the mountain region of Engiadina Bassa/Val Müstair reveal a differentiated picture of individual experiences with digitalization. For some it is a curse, for others it is a blessing. However, it can be derived that digitalization contributes to economic and social change in mountain areas. Digitalization also provides new opportunities for flexible and multilocal working. Due to the possibility of accessing the Internet in peripheral mountain areas, more and more knowledge workers are deciding to temporarily relocate their workplace to the mountains. Using a new and original methodological approach, pioneers of such work practices were followed closely and their working environment was analyzed. It became apparent that these workers take advantage of self-chosen marginality in terms of remoteness and distance from the urban workplace to pursue their work in a focused and motivated manner. Superordinate, multilocal work practices enable a nuanced view on relationships and connections between cities and mountain areas, with alternating work locations and digital communication providing a relational view on the interconnectedness of spaces in the digital age. Furthermore, this dissertation is also dedicated to the question of methodological approaches that allow to scientifically explore digitalization and, in particular, multilocal work practices between cities and mountain areas. Using the research designs of a community case study and a mixed methods approach, it was possible to gain deeper insights into the effects of digital transformations and digital multilocality. In particular, the mixed methods approach provides an impetus to address and further think about common methods in social science research against the background of new, digital methods. Thus, this dissertation takes a nuanced look at digital transformations in mountain areas with a specific focus on digital, multilocal work practices. In doing so, it sheds light on the idea that mountain areas should not be regarded as isolated, but that new points of contact between urban centers and rural peripheries are resulting from digitalization.

Item Type: Thesis
Dissertation Type: Cumulative
Date of Defense: 24 August 2021
Subjects: 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
700 Arts > 710 Landscaping & area planning
900 History > 910 Geography & travel
Institute / Center: 08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Depositing User: Hammer Igor
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2022 11:56
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2022 12:01

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item