culture expert, alludes to this new precarity in her article The Lure of Risk: Surviving and
Welcoming Uncertainty in the New Economy:
The lure of risk the potential for payout adds an element of choice, that people
are choosing to accept risk rather than merely accepting the consequences of
economic structural change. I’d like to propose this new way of thinking about risk
and uncertainty. Risk gives the appearance of choice, power, and individual
agency. As such, risk provides a powerful justification for the lack of security in jobs
of the new economy. If anything, capitalism’s social innovations during the dot-
com era was that images of risk made a lack of job security a good thing. To those
who are surviving the new economy, risk seems to provide a powerful hope of
hitting a potential payout. The strong lure of risk combined with individualization
has created a volatile situation in which risk is welcomed and as a means of
avoiding the uncertainty facing the collective. This shift of focus away from
economic uncertainty and away from collective structures toward individual risk
taking, choice, and powers hinders the ability to demand and create good stable
jobs and workplaces. (Amman, Carpenter & Neff, 2007, p. 38)
The dot-come era, where the potential for payoff was high, shifted the risk-taking focus to
the individual and moved it away from the responsibility of the corporation. Now that we
are in a recession, where risk is riskier, the situation is more precarious and there is little
room for collective bargaining when it comes to wages. As Neff notes there may have to
be a new approach to how we view organizing in the future:
Are there ways that increased security can support entrepreneurial behavior?
Could an organization provide for benefits while explicitly encouraging
contracting and supporting freelancing work? How can the blurred line between
management and employee be addressed? Answers to these questions will be
crucial for organizing new collective approaches to uncertainty. (Amman,
Carpenter & Neff, 2007, p. 46)
These are questions that will have to be addressed in the new economy because the
previous solutions proposed by the two major parties in the U.S. are no longer working
according to Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of
California at Berkeley and former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, as
recently expressed on a NPR Marketplace segment Who’s Got the Right Plan to Boost
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