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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
  2. THE CONTEXT 22 month investigation into flexible labor in the

    Vancouver digital and new media industry. Source: OpenStreetMap
  3. THE CONTEXT Vancouver: “Silicon Valley North” Title: let’s heal the

    divide. Artist: Toni Latour. Photo credits: Vancouver Biennale
  4. 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
  5. $ 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
  6. 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
  7. 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?
  8. 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.
  9. 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
  10. 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.