Hackathons as Co-optation Ritual: Socializing Workers and Institutionalizing Innovation in the “New” Economy

Precarious Work

ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-287-1

ISSN: 0277-2833

Publication date: 19 December 2017

Abstract

Hackathons, time-bounded events where participants write computer code and build apps, have become a popular means of socializing tech students and workers to produce “innovation” despite little promise of material reward. Although they offer participants opportunities for learning new skills and face-to-face networking and set up interaction rituals that create an emotional “high,” potential advantage is even greater for the events’ corporate sponsors, who use them to outsource work, crowdsource innovation, and enhance their reputation. Ethnographic observations and informal interviews at seven hackathons held in New York during the course of a single school year show how the format of the event and sponsors’ discursive tropes, within a dominant cultural frame reflecting the appeal of Silicon Valley, reshape unpaid and precarious work as an extraordinary opportunity, a ritual of ecstatic labor, and a collective imaginary for fictional expectations of innovation that benefits all, a powerful strategy for manufacturing workers’ consent in the “new” economy.

Keywords

Citation

Sharon Zukin and Max Papadantonakis (2017). 'Hackathons as Co-optation Ritual: Socializing Workers and Institutionalizing Innovation in the “New” Economy', in Arne L. KallebergSteven P. Vallas (ed.) Precarious Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Volume 31). Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 157-181

Download as .RIS

DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/S0277-283320170000031005

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018 Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.