Down and Out in the New Economy

Down and Out in the New Economy by Ilana Gershon

The metaphor of employment has shifted: people are no longer selling their skills; they are renting them. This implies a temporary business of one. She writes, “People now think they own themselves as though they are businesses—bundles of skills, assets, qualities, experiences, and relationships, bundles that must be consciously managed and constantly enhanced”.


Branding: branding works in two ways here. You have the personal brand and the company brand. The personal brand is managed, non-contextual and permeates most aspects of life physically and virtually (public presentations of self). The company’s image must also be maintained and protected and the employee must not risk tarnishing it.

Capturing your essence is critical in branding. You must be unique and not generic. There is an emphasis on your authentic self. It is context-free. You have to have good keywords, but also experiences to demonstrate them. The brand must reflect the authentic self.

This segwayed into a conversation about control. One must control its brand and monitor behavior and language online. And there is an understanding that this is under your control. This control and image-management needs constant attention through different websites. You’re supposed to use social media to market and advertise your brand.

Different forms of social media orient people to different participant structures. She writes, “The medium also affects the perceived value of someone’s participation and whether it is public or private speech”. The shift in metaphor also shifts genres that shift participant structures (74). She explains, “In short, different media inspire different types of concerns, even media that are created at almost the same time. And different concerns about media will lead to different kinds of attempts to standardize users’ practices” (123). Moreover, participant structures take labor to standardize. One of the ways to standardize is language; metapragmatics (123-125). But with new media, we have no rule book. It is self-regulated. So there’s this weird connection that comes out between companies, employees, social media, and participant structures. Companies are standardizing practices in order to protect their brand. People nowadays often learn how to use new media by talking to others (129-130).

Neoliberalism: the experience of neoliberalism; this time period is how populations were experiencing capitalism today. Capitalism on steroids. Inside neoliberalism, users are experiencing it as pragmatic and useful. Where the fissures are is where we should push to question the logic of the model. But you never see this word come up because people don’t actually use or like the term. How you get a job is really mystified.

Technological Infrastructure



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