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Talking About Business: Labora presentation @ CCA2019

Talking About Business: Labora presentation @ CCA2019

Labora presentation at the 2019 Canadian Communication Association conference.
May 3rd, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

Alberto Lusoli

June 03, 2019

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  1. Occupational communities and flexible labor in Vancouver’s creative industry TALKING

    ABOUT BUSINESS Alberto Lusoli - May 3 2019 - Canadian Communication Association Photo: Co-working space, Vancouver
  2. Creative industries Gina Neff Melissa Gregg Andrew Ross Julian Orr

    Lucy Suchman Fred Turner Labour and identity Boltanski and Chiapello Paul Du Gay Richard Sennett Harry Braverman Nigel Thrift Hardt and Negri Tiziana Terranova THEORETICAL REFERENCE POINTS Technology & Society Andrew Feenberg David Lane Michel Callon Susan Leigh Star
  3. WHY VANCOUVER? Vancouver is often identified as one of the

    emerging ecosystems for digital, software and media ventures (Startup Genome, 2019). The Vancouver tech industry employs 106,430 (~5.0% of British Columbia’s workforce). More than the mining, oil and gas, and forestry sectors combined (Schrier, 2017). Photo: Hootsuite HQ. Vancouver
  4. INDEPENDENT WORKERS 18% of British Columbia’s workforce is self-employed, well

    above the 15% national average (Statistics Canada, 2019). To some, working as an independent worker is a deliberate decision. It’s the case of experienced and senior employees, who decide to market their skills outside of corporate environments. To others, it’s the only choice. For instance, mid-career managers laid-off from work, immigrants, non-qualified workers and minorities. Photo: Startup Weekend Hackathon. Nov.2014
  5. NO PROCEDURES, CREATIVE EXPRESSION “I got into an amazing coworking

    space, I have done projects that are more visually interesting, I have been happier on a day to day basis. I have been able to develop my own idea. It took a lot if time. I am working less, doing similar money, maybe a little less. And it's less structured, but I was able to find my structure.” Interviewee #2 Photo: Coding bootcamp. Toronto, July 2018
  6. Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver. LEARNING I did see many benefits

    of being in a startup (and that I no longer have in my current job), namely: how much time they gave me to learn things. It was part of the culture. “Take two weeks to learn this one thing”. And they were totally cool with that! In an established service you do not the same degree of freedom. You gonna be producing something all the time, you cannot take time to study things. Of course there is always a business objective at the end, but I do not have the time, in my current job, that I had in the startup. It was also a possibility to express creativity, be more free with the kind of things I spend my time with. Interviewee #12
  7. Photo: Startup entrance hall, Vancouver. November 2018 CORPORATE PRISONS “I

    walked away from something that was pretty stable and financially rewarding but it just felt I was willingly going to jail everyday, if that makes any sense. Everyday I would commute to my corporate prison. And I felt like: "Here, put handcuffs on me". And I almost felt like I couldn't walk away because it was so good. They were paying me that much, I had all the benefits in the world, I had stock options...why would I say no to all that?” Interviewee #29
  8. “There used to be a time when employer used to

    educate you and help you with your skills. We are seeing this hollowing out [...] and I have great concerns that we are allowing this to happen.” Interviewee #14 Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver. DETERIORATION OF TRADITIONAL JOB
  9. Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver. LINEAR GROWTH “I do not see

    room for me to grow. I am working as a developer and I will remain so as long as they need training. It is possible for me to get a higher position. Maybe they could hire a new developer, and I could become a Project manager and manage a team of developers. But this is unlikely to happen, as the company is growing linearly. Interviewee #18 Photo: Advertising. Startup Incubator. Vancouver. May 2018.
  10. Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver, Oct. 2018 “In the 90s when

    we used to consider ourselves as brands. Now we conceive ourselves as LLC. Beyond the brand, embracing the notion of individuals as a lean individual start ups.” Interviewee #3 BE YOUR OWN BUSINESS
  11. MEETUPS Informal grassroots organizations connecting workers with similar competences and

    professional interests. Blending elements of leisure and work, Meetups provide people the opportunity to connect, learn new skills and start new collaborations.
  12. 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?
  13. 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
  14. INDIVIDUALIZATION In the majority of the cases, the discourses circulating

    through meetups reinforce an individualistic approach to systemic problems of flexibility. Systemic problems related to market overexposure are addressed through individual solutions. E.g. mastermind groups and mentoring.
  15. Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver, October 2018 Most meetups involve some

    forms of immaterial labour. This is labour that meetup organizers and participants perform in the hope that part of it will be actualized into production and turned into (social) capital. IMMATERIAL LABOUR
  16. research blog: HTTPS://LABORA.CO Alberto Lusoli [email protected] THANK YOU Thanks to

    all photographers who released their work in the public domain using Creative Common: Photo credits: Coworking Vancouver, Hootsuite HQ, Coffice All other photos used in this presentation were taken by Alberto Lusoli and distributed under Creative Common license.