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Remote work and the redrawing of the US rural imaginary during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Remote work and the redrawing of the US rural imaginary during the COVID-19 Pandemic

"Remote work and the redrawing of the US rural imaginary during the COVID-19 Pandemic". Research presented at the Communicative Cities Research Network Symposium 2022, organized by the European Communication Research and Education Association and hosted by the Department of Media and Communications, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Alberto Lusoli

March 24, 2022
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  1. Alberto Lusoli, Digital Democracies Institute
    REMOTE WORK
    AND THE REDRAWING OF THE US RURAL IMAGINARY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
    March 25, 2022. Communicative Cities Research Network Symposium

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  2. TABLE OF CONTENTS
    1. The context
    2. Research questions
    3. Methodology
    4. Findings
    5. Discussion
    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    ALBERTO LUSOLI
    DIGITALDEMOCRACIES.ORG
    [email protected]
    @albertolusoli
    2

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  3. THE CONTEXT
    THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THE SHIFT TO REMOTE WORK
    1
    3

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  4. 4
    1. THE CONTEXT

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  5. 3
    1. THE CONTEXT
    Apple One Infinite Loop. Credits: Wikimedia

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  6. Relocation programs provide economic incentives
    and other perks, such as free access to coworking
    spaces and invitations to exclusive events, to
    skilled workers willing to move to secondary cities
    and rural regions.
    Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    SKILLED WORKERS
    RELOCATION PROGRAMS
    1. THE CONTEXT
    7
    Credits: Remote Shoals
    6

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  7. 7
    RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    2

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  8. 1. What are the themes employed by secondary cities and rural regions in their attempt to rebrand themselves as
    places for remote tech and creative workers?
    2. How do these themes contrast with the narratives offered by major US tech regions?
    Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    2. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
    8

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  9. 9
    METHODOLOGY
    3

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  10. Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    10
    FINDING
    RELOCATION PROGRAMS
    15 relocation programs for remote workers
    extracted from MakeMyMove.com
    Interactive dashboard available here
    👇
    http://tiny.cc/CCRN22
    3. METHODOLOGY
    Program City State Website
    218Relocate Bemidji Minnesota https://www.218relocate.com/
    Ascend West Virginia Lewisburg West Virginia https://ascendwv.com/
    Bloomington Remote Bloomington Indiana https://www.bloomingtonremote.com/
    Chattanooga Calling Chattanooga Tennessee https://chattanoogacalling.com/
    Choose Topeka Topeka Kansas https://choosetopeka.com/
    Finding NWA Fayetteville Arkansas https://findingnwa.com/
    Innovate Vegas Las Vegas Nevada https://innovate.vegas/
    Johnstown Johnstown Pennsylvania https://www.crchamber.com/
    Live + Work in Maine Augusta Maine https://liveandworkinmaine.com/
    Move to Michigan Benton Harbor Michigan https://movetomichigan.org/
    Remote Shoals Florence Alabama https://remoteshoals.com/
    The Creative Coast Savannah Georgia https://thecreativecoast.org/
    Think Vermont Montpelier Vermont https://thinkvermont.com/
    Tulsa Remote Tulsa Oklahoma https://tulsaremote.com/
    Work From Purdue West Lafayette Indiana https://www.workfrompurdue.com/

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  11. 3. METHODOLOGY
    11
    RELOCATION
    PROGRAM
    WEBSITE
    n=15
    WEB CRAWLER
    SocNetV
    https://socnetv.org/
    MOST RELEVANT
    PAGES PER
    WEBSITE
    Based on webpages
    in-degree centrality.
    n=117

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  12. 3. METHODOLOGY
    12
    QUALITATIVE
    CONTENT ANALYSIS
    DASHBOARD
    http://tiny.cc/CCRN22
    VISUAL CONTENTS
    15 codes split into 3 main
    themes
    TEXTUAL CONTENTS
    32 codes split into 4 main
    themes

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  13. 3. METHODOLOGY
    13
    Example of page coded in Nvivo

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  14. 15
    ANALYSIS OF
    TEXTUAL CONTENTS
    Dataset and coding protocol available here:
    http://tiny.cc/datasets
    4. FINDINGS

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  15. 16
    ANALYSIS OF
    VISUAL CONTENTS
    Dataset and coding protocol available here:
    http://tiny.cc/datasets
    4. FINDINGS

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  16. Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    This theme develops around 4 main sub-themes,
    or codes:
    1. Outdoor recreation (17.7%)*
    2. Access to nature (16.2%)*
    3. Social justice and inclusion (14%)*
    4. Community (10 programs out of 15)
    * % of codes within the Quality of Life theme.
    T1: QUALITY OF LIFE
    17
    4. FINDINGS
    Credits: Tulsa Remote

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  17. Credits: Remote Shoals
    Connectivity, as in:
    1. Connection to the network of local
    entrepreneurs and tech workers;
    2. High-speed internet connection;
    3. Connection to major transportation
    infrastructures (airports and highways).
    T2: WORK ENVIRONMENT
    8
    4. FINDINGS
    18

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  18. Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    The theme develop around four main subthemes:
    1. School and education (41.7%);*
    2. Affordable housing (32.1%); *
    3. Health care (23.8%);*
    4. Childcare (2.4%).*
    * % of codes within the Essential Services theme
    T3: ESSENTIAL SERVICES
    8
    4. FINDINGS
    Photo: Tulsa Remote
    Credits: 218 Relocate. Bemidji, MN
    19

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  19. Credits: Remote Shoals
    Incentives to remote workers:
    1. Economic incentives: 7 out of 15 programs;
    2. Fiscal incentives: 6 out of 15 programs;
    3. In-kind incentives: 7 out of 15 programs.
    T4: INCENTIVES
    8
    20

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  20. DISCUSSION
    5
    21

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  21. Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
    19
    REIMAGINING
    THE RURAL
    Heartland values such as homeownership and
    family/community ties counter the image of the
    individualist, self-reliant, nomadic knowledge
    worker idealized by Richard Florida’s creative
    class.
    5. DISCUSSION
    22

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  22. REIMAGINING
    THE RURAL
    Relocation programs incorporate and adapt some
    of the themes underpinning the creative-city
    model into their narratives. These include:
    ■ Authenticity
    ■ Diversity and social justice
    ■ Entertainment and recreation
    5. DISCUSSION
    23
    Credits: Freepik - Flaticon

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  23. Photo: Remote Shoals
    RQ1: Relocation programs promote rural regions
    and secondary cities through themes such as: life
    quality, authenticity, inclusion and social justice,
    work environment and recreation.
    RQ2: These themes react to, and reproduce,
    creative-city inspired themes, and combine them
    with heartland values such as family, home
    ownership, safety.
    CONCLUSIONS
    8
    Credits: Tulsa Remote
    24

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  24. Alberto Lusoli
    [email protected]
    twitter.com/albertolusoli
    digitaldemocracies.org
    Except where otherwise noted, all photos used in this
    presentation were taken by Alberto Lusoli and
    distributed under Creative Common license.
    THANK
    YOU

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