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Occupational Communities and the democratization of Startup Labor

Alberto Lusoli
February 25, 2021

Occupational Communities and the democratization of Startup Labor

Feb. 25 2021 - IV ISA Forum of Sociology.
Precarity, Subjectivity and Collective Actions

Alberto Lusoli

February 25, 2021
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  1. and Democratization of Startup Labor
    OCCUPATIONAL COMMUNITIES
    Alberto Lusoli - Feb. 25 2021 - IV ISA Forum of Sociology.
    Precarity, Subjectivity and Collective Actions

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  2. THE CONTEXT
    22 month investigation into flexible labor in the
    Vancouver digital and new media industry.
    Source: OpenStreetMap

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  3. Source: OpenStreetMap
    THE CONTEXT
    “Silicon Valley North”, a creative city prototype.

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  4. THE CONTEXT
    Vancouver: “Silicon Valley North”
    Title: let’s heal the divide. Artist: Toni Latour. Photo credits: Vancouver Biennale

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  5. Photo: The recreational room at a Vancouver startup
    Elite
    workers

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  6. INDEPENDENT WORKERS
    ‘I was forced into it [freelancing] because I was laid off from my job.
    And going back to the job market, after having worked 10 years in a
    company, was not as easy as it was before.‘
    Interviewee #24, Freelance customer success specialist
    ‘There doesn't appear to be any room for advancement for what, $12
    and hour or $14 an hour? So I think that part of the problem is the
    self-worker is basically saying, "Yeah, I am choosing independent
    work, but not because it's really the way I want to work, but because
    the stuff that's out there is really lousy”’
    Interviewee #29, Labor activist

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  7. $
    Have a steady flow of projects to work on.
    Finding new clients, marketing their skills.
    INCOME STABILITY
    ↑ Keep up with the latest technologies and
    software.
    SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
    🞮 Managing invoicing, receiving payments on
    time, filing tax returns.
    ADMINISTRATIVE WORK

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  8. Expand their networks. Hunt for new jobs.
    Almost all Meetups have planned networking
    sessions. Some are just for networking.
    CONNECTIONS
    In many cases, people attend meetups as a
    way to start projects (AKA side hustles).
    EXPERIENCE
    Some meetup groups provide education,
    through peer to peer lectures and seminars.
    EDUCATION
    Photo: Meetup event, Vancouver, Sept.2018

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  9. MEETUPS AS
    OCCUPATIONAL
    COMMUNITIES
    In his ethnography of Xerox’ technicians, Julian Orr
    described occupational communities as ‘bounded
    work cultures populated by people who share similar
    identities and values that transcend specific
    organizational settings’.
    The unanswered question is: can Meetup become the
    modern counterpart of occupational communities?
    Can these informal organizations work at a systemic
    level and develop into safety net for flexible and gig
    workers?

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  10. INDIVIDUALIZATION
    In the majority of the cases, the discourses
    circulating through meetups reinforce an
    individualistic approach to systemic problems of
    flexibility. Independent workers transition from
    being marginalized nodes within networks of
    production to become themselves the center of
    subnetworks of labor supply - often mediated by
    digital marketplaces.

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  11. NEW FORMS OF
    TACTICAL RESISTANCE
    “Advocate for a better future for independent workers.
    That means building campaigns and taking political
    action on issues like improved access to health and
    dental benefits, better pay and protections for
    contract and freelance workers, access to parental
    leave and more.”
    Urbanworker.ca
    https://www.urbanworker.ca

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  12. research blog:
    HTTPS://LABORA.CO
    Alberto Lusoli
    [email protected]
    twitter.com/albertolusoli THANK
    YOU
    Except where otherwise noted, all photos used in this
    presentation were taken by Alberto Lusoli and
    distributed under Creative Common license.

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