For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Embedded in the Crowd: Creative Freelancers, Crowdsourced Work, and Occupational Community"

by Schwartz, David (2018)


Although scholars are beginning to examine the experience of crowdsourced work, the extant literature and popular accounts paint an undersocialized picture of the labor process. This study explores how crowdsourced work remains socially embedded in the structure of an occupational community that exists exclusively online and in relation to a focal firm. The findings draw on interviews and observation of creative freelancers who designed, developed, and distributed digital goods in a crowdsourced work arrangement with an entertainment publisher. The online meeting places of an occupational community supported workers in their responses to three challenges of contingency: limited communication with the firm, sporadic and unpredictable compensation for their work, and unclear career trajectory. Within the community, freelancers found direction and meaning for their work, built collective strategies to smooth compensation, and illuminated a pathway from amateur to expert. As an occupational institution, the community also structured collaborations that transferred knowledge of industry standard practice and coordinated work in the absence of bureaucratic organization.


Invisible Work, Platform Work, Platform Economies, Gig Economies, Hyperflexible Work, Algorithmic Labor, Precarious Work


Gig Work, Algorithms

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