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Book Review: Venture Labor in Contemporary Sociology

Thank you Michael Indergaard for the scholarly review of Venture Labor in Contemporary Sociology.

What advice do you give to young folks about jobs? I could tell them I made some investments in my employability, but it is equally true that I mostly muddled through the uncertain career paths of our times. In Frank Knight’s classic formulation, efforts to manage “uncertainty” turn it into “risk.” This idea is the starting point for Venture Labor, Gina Neff’s rich study of New York internet workers who embraced risk during the dot-com boom. This internet cluster, known as Silicon Alley, became the site of new forms of media and work. Neff seeks lessons from this first wave of digital start-ups even as a new wave tries to capitalize on social media, big data and the like. She wants to understand why such workers came to accept the idea that they are individually responsible for managing employment uncertainties. She offers a synthetic account of agency that contributes to debates about the role of calculation in economic action—a position usually in tension with established claims about action’s structurally-embedded or culturally-constituted nature.

Read more in Contemporary Sociology:


Venture Labor is CITASA’S 2013 Book of the Year

(This generous write-up from my home department website is about the Best Book Award given to Venture Labor won.)

Professor Gina Neff’s book titled “Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk in Innovative Industries” was selected as the 2013 Best Book Award by the American Sociological Association Section on Communication and Information Technologies (CITASA). The book award “recognizes an outstanding book related to the sociology of communications or the sociology of information technology.” (more…)

Book Review: Venture Labor in American Journal of Sociology

Thank you to Vicki Smith for the scholarly review of Venture Labor in the American Journal of Sociology.

A great deal has been written about employment risk in the 21st century. Many agree that institutional bases of employment are shifting, jobs and careers have become more tenuous, and risks associated with employment increasingly have been transferred to individuals. Yet, to date we don’t have many in-depth, fine-grained studies of how individuals or groups experience these transformations. Venture Labor: Work and the Burden of Risk makes a significant contribution to this important and multifaceted topic. Gina Neff’s analysis of the mutually constitutive processes through which people’s cultural frames and understandings of the risks of employment fueled the growth of an industry, and how industry practices both rewarded and benefited from those frames, is nuanced, smart, and insightful.

Read more in the American Journal of Sociology: