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
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. For others, it’s the only choice. For instance, mid-career managers laid-oﬀ from work, immigrants, non-qualiﬁed workers and minorities.
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
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
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 “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 #2 “You lose health beneﬁts. I tried to use as much beneﬁt as I could before I left [my corporate job].” Interviewee #3
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?
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
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. INDIVIDUALIZATION 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 Photo: Coworking space, Vancouver, October 2018
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.