Gandini, A 2016, “Digital work: Self-branding and social capital in the freelance knowledge economy”, Marketing Theory 2016, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 123–141
Alessandro Gandini writes from the Department of Media at Middlesex University, London. In this extract Gandini, with reference to many other theorists, speaks about the process of freelancing and particularly it’s relationship to socialization as a means of acquiring employment or leads to employment – what is called “social capital”.
In self-branding practices, the act of socialising and forming relationships with others functions as an investment with an anticipated return. Building these connections and links becomes one’s social capital, an extremely important asset to possess in an era where job search relies heavily on networking.
Gandini also uses statistics which reinforce the growing number of freelance workers worldwide, particularly in the US and UK. He attributes this to a “neo-liberal push for project-based employment” and social media activity.
He then presents an empirical study which took place in London and Milan involving multi-skilled professionals such as illustrators, audiovisual producers, media workers, and communication designers – the main aim of this study being to make sense of the “cultural meanings of professional networks and contacts”.
Most interviewees had degrees related to their field and all had social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter. The interviews and findings from them are explored, with the main findings being that one must be skilled in their field but also in the art of networking and exposing yourself in such a way that you are constantly visible; perhaps even using social media accounts to document your location in the case of one participant.
Many agree that there is much work done unpaid, self-branding included, but also the offering of free labour and some saw this as a strategic move while others found more success when they worked for themselves ‘for free’. Nevertheless, the survey indicated a strong relationship between free labour and eventual paid work indirectly from such gigs.
Holgate, J & McKay, S 2009, “Equal opportunities policies: how effective are they in increasing diversity in the audio-visual industries’ freelance labour market?”, Media Culture Society January 2009, vol. 31 no. 1, pp. 151-163
Jane Holgate and Sonia McKay write from the London Metropolitan University.
In their article, they discuss the implications of governmental policies within the changing media workforce landscape and talk about the direction of employment models in the media industry. They state that during the last few decades employment has been fragmented and insecure.
Holgate and McKay report that many people found it hard to find full time employment, more than 65% of youth 21-30 finding it hard to acquire full time work and 50% of all audio-visual producers working freelance in the UK.
Additionally, the article highlights the the lack of ethnical diversity in the media landscape, particularly from those of racial minorities. Studies they discuss also show a lack of women in the industry as certain occupations “remain the preserve of the men”. Such an outcome is attributed to the fact that employers failed to recruit labour from a wide range of sources.
Furthermore, they observed that policies intended to create diversity were in fact generating the opposite effect. They found that though companies had adopted equal opportunity policies, they had not followed through with equal opportunity practices. Moreover, their study found that workers were just as likely to experience discrimination in workplaces with equal opportunity policies as those without.
They conclude by arguing that non-white workers were given the additional burden of having to locate and construct relevant works, and were more reliant on non-formal ways of finding employment than their white counterparts, asserting that if this were to continue, a re-establishment of contractual relationships would be required.