Search results

1 – 10 of 14
Content available
Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Abstract

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Rick Delbridge, Markus Helfen, Andreas Pekarek and Gretchen Purser

In this chapter, we underscore the enduring importance of research on work, workers, labour markets, and the places and spaces of work. We then examine the particular and valuable…

Abstract

In this chapter, we underscore the enduring importance of research on work, workers, labour markets, and the places and spaces of work. We then examine the particular and valuable contributions that come from ethnographic research in providing detailed studies of work, particularly when these are situated and interpreted in their wider socio-political contexts. We discuss the key dimensions of ethnography before overviewing the contributions to the volume. The volume presents cutting-edge ethnographic research on contemporary worlds of work and the experiences of workers from a range of contexts including an alternative community, working online, the gig economy, and the hospitality industry. Alongside novel empirical chapters, the collection includes the reflections of ethnographers with regards to, for example, the experience as a young female management researcher working amongst journalists in a media firm, personal feelings of precarity within and beyond the field, and how to navigate the challenges of researching inequalities ethnographically.

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Alma Andino-Frydman

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…

Abstract

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.

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Hanna Goldberg

The extra-low minimum wage for US restaurant workers has remained unchanged for over 30 years. Periodic campaigns have brought this wage, and its connection to the perpetuation of…

Abstract

The extra-low minimum wage for US restaurant workers has remained unchanged for over 30 years. Periodic campaigns have brought this wage, and its connection to the perpetuation of inequality and exploitative work, to public attention, but these campaigns have met resistance from both employers and restaurant workers. This article draws on a workplace ethnography in a restaurant front-of-house, and in-depth interviews with tipped food service workers, to examine the tipped labour process and begin to answer a central question: why would any workers oppose a wage increase? It argues that the constituting of tips as a formal wage created for workers a two-employer problem, wherein customers assume the role of secondary, unregulated, employers in the workplace. Ultimately, the tipped wage poses a longer-term strategic obstacle for workers in their position relative to management and ability to organize to shape the terms and conditions of their work.

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Michael Dunn, Isabel Munoz, Clea O’Neil and Steve Sawyer

In this chapter, we theorize about online freelancers’ approaches to work flexibility. Drawing from an ongoing digital ethnography of US-based online freelancers pursuing work on…

Abstract

In this chapter, we theorize about online freelancers’ approaches to work flexibility. Drawing from an ongoing digital ethnography of US-based online freelancers pursuing work on digital platforms, our data question the common conceptualizations around the flexibility of online freelancing. We posit that the flexibility of where to work, not when to work, is the most important attribute of their work arrangement. Our data show (1) the online freelancers in our study prefer the stability and sustainability of full-time work over freelancing when both are offered as remote options; (2) full-time remote employment increases these workers’ freelancing control / flexibility; (3) these workers keep freelance work options open even as they transition to more permanent full-time work arrangements. We discuss how these findings relate to workplace culture shifts and what this means for contemporary working arrangements. Our insights contribute to the discourses on knowledge-based gig work and for what it means to study individuals online.

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Floris de Krijger

A growing body of research finds that gig economy platforms use gamification to enhance managerial control. Focusing on technologically mediated forms of gamification, this…

Abstract

A growing body of research finds that gig economy platforms use gamification to enhance managerial control. Focusing on technologically mediated forms of gamification, this literature reveals how platforms mobilize gig workers’ work effort by making the labour process resemble a game. This chapter contends that this tech-centric scholarship fails to fully capture the historical continuities between contemporary and much older occurrences of game-playing at work. Informed by interviews and participatory observations at two food delivery platforms in Amsterdam, I document how these platforms’ piece wage system gives rise to a workplace dynamic in which severely underpaid delivery couriers continuously employ game strategies to maximize their gig income. Reminiscent of observations from the early shop floor ethnographies of the manufacturing industry, I show that the game of gig income maximization operates as an indirect modality of control by (re)aligning the interests of couriers with the interests of capital and by individualizing and depoliticizing couriers’ overall low wage level. I argue that the new, algorithmic technologies expand and intensify the much older forms of gamified control by infusing the organizational activities of shift and task allocation with the logic of the piece wage game and by increasing the possibilities for interaction, direct feedback and immersion. My study contributes to the literature on gamification in the gig economy by interweaving it with the classic observations derived from the manufacturing industry and by developing a conceptualization of gamification in which both capital and labour exercise agency.

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Krzysztof Z. Jankowski

This chapter discusses the impact of the sociological imagination and ethnographic research methods on identifying the ‘real’ nature of conceptualized phenomena. The examination…

Abstract

This chapter discusses the impact of the sociological imagination and ethnographic research methods on identifying the ‘real’ nature of conceptualized phenomena. The examination is done by comparing the researcher’s experience of work-related precarity in ethnographic methods and in the researcher’s personal circumstances immediately following the fieldwork. Such a juxtaposition shows what had been emphasized by ethnography and the effects of the researcher’s social context on the concepts under study. In the case of fieldwork, many of the practical difficulties of precarious work were encountered. However, the context of being an ethnographer altered how work precarity was felt. In the personal circumstances that followed the fieldwork, precariousness was strongly felt in a more general manner. This occurred in a discrete event that involved multiple factors of employment, housing, institutions relied on, and personal relationships. Such differences between fieldwork and personal circumstances illuminate on the tendency to isolate phenomena in fieldwork, which poses the risk of making ethnographic reality out of ideal types.

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Felicity Heathcote-Marcz and Sideeq Mohammed

Good ethnographic work produces stories. Stories are told to us by our interlocutors. We record them in our fieldnotes and read about them in archival or policy documents. We see…

Abstract

Good ethnographic work produces stories. Stories are told to us by our interlocutors. We record them in our fieldnotes and read about them in archival or policy documents. We see and hear them occur around us, we participate in them, and they become a core part of our memories of the field. Given that ‘telling stories is one of the fundamental things we do as human beings’ (Falconi & Graber, 2019, p. 1), stories are perhaps the most crucial resource by which we as ethnographers make sense of a field, allowing us to translate what happened to others so that they might be able to vicariously travel through the fields which we studied.

Yet when we look at the ethnographies published in leading management and organization studies journals, stories are increasingly hidden from view. We argue in this short chapter, for a return to storytelling at the centre of the production of ethnography. We seek an opening of the closed world of academic storytelling to those audiences excluded from such networks, including those whom we ethnographers are writing about. We retell nine short stories from an ethnography of Traffic Officers and the breakdowns they encounter on the strategic road network. These vignettes form a non-linear narrative of some of the most emotive and embodied encounters in our fieldwork in transport and mobility spaces between 2018 and 2019. We leave our readers to draw conclusions, implications, and linkages from these stories and offer an invitation to debate and conversation on the themes encountered therein.

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

Keywords

Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Laurianne Terlinden

This personal reflection piece relates my experience of vulnerability as a researcher when doing ethnographic fieldwork with journalists. Drawing on my empirical and emotional…

Abstract

This personal reflection piece relates my experience of vulnerability as a researcher when doing ethnographic fieldwork with journalists. Drawing on my empirical and emotional experience, I show the way the encounters in the field made me feel vulnerable and challenged my identity as a researcher. The chapter also introduces the way my self-disclosure in various ways as a fellow imperfect human being – a.o. regarding motherhood – was an important way to build relationships with the research participants and gain their trust. By doing so, this reflective commentary seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the articulation between researcher identity, fieldwork, and vulnerability.

Content available
Book part
Publication date: 12 December 2023

Abstract

Details

Ethnographies of Work
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83753-949-9

1 – 10 of 14