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Who is a Digital Nomad? The Evolving Identities of the New Nomadic Workforce

Alma Andino-Frydman (Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA)

Ethnographies of Work

ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9, eISBN: 978-1-83753-948-2

Publication date: 12 December 2023


In this paper, I explore what shapes the identities of digital nomads (DNs), a class of remote workers who travel and work concurrently. Through extensive fieldwork and interviews with 50 digital nomads conducted in seven coworking hostels in Mexico in 2022, I construct a theory of DN identity. I base this upon the frequent transformations they undergo in their Circumstances, which regularly change their worker identity.

DNs relinquish traditional social determinants of identity, such as nationality and religion. They define their personal identities by their passions and interests, which are influenced by the people they meet. DNs exist in inherently transitive social spaces and, without rigid social roles to fulfil, they represent themselves authentically. They form close relationships with other long-term travellers to combat loneliness and homesickness. Digital nomads define their worker identities around their location independence. This study shows that DNs value their nomadic lifestyle above promotions and financial gain. They define themselves by productivity and professionalism to ensure the sustainability of their lifestyle. Furthermore, digital nomad coworking hubs serve focused, individual work, leaving workplace politics and strict ‘office image’ norms behind. Without fixed social and professional roles to play, digital nomads define themselves personally according to their ever-evolving passions and the sustainability of their nomadic life. Based on these findings, I present a cyclical framework for DN identity evolution which demonstrates how relational, logistical, and socio-personal flux evolves DN’s worker identities.



Andino-Frydman, A. (2023), "Who is a Digital Nomad? The Evolving Identities of the New Nomadic Workforce", Delbridge, R., Helfen, M., Pekarek, A. and Purser, G. (Ed.) Ethnographies of Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 35), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 95-137.



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