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Self Tracking
Venture Labor
Surviving the New Economy

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.

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