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an art that few people can master and a recipe of disaster for all the rest’
(quoted in Tester 2001, p. 52). (Deuze, 2007, p. 23)
The Internet Bridges The Liminal Disconnect
The study and collective rallying against “precarity” in the work force is a growing social
movement worldwide and not exclusive to media workers. Occupy Wall Street is just one
example of a movement seeking to call attention to the lack of safety nets in our current
labor climate. The Precarious Workers Brigade in the UK is a clear reminder the distinction
between media surfers and media serfs is fragile:
The Precarious Workers Brigade is a London-based group of culture and
education workers brought together around issues of precarity. The terms
precarity has been used a lot recently and can be defined in terms of the
conundrum of personal and collective issues arising from “flexible” insecure work.
The proliferation of free, fragmentary and temporary jobs and unstable working
conditions can be seen as a structural response to the market’s need for flexible
workers, but also a result of a desire, on the part of workers and particularly
workers in the cultural sector for more autonomy. As PWB, we come
together to map this set of conditions, create a new vocabulary to talk about
the situations we find ourselves in, and to develop practical tools to intervene in
these situations. (http://precariousworkersbrigade.tumblr.com/)
The online Freelancers Union in New York City, a voice for growing number of unaffiliated
workers, has recently created legislation for the Freelancer Payment Protection Act
(S4129/A6698) to assure that freelancers receive payment since “almost 80% of
independent workers will be stiffed by clients in their careers and they have no legal
protections like traditional employees.” The Freelancers Union’s “Get Paid, Not Played”
campaign harnessed the power of the Internet to bring awareness to deadbeat clients
(http://www.freelancersunion.org/resources/unpaidwages.html).
There is a growing dialogue about precarity, but the new collectivization forged by the
Internet is not only creating awareness but also proposing real possibilities for activism,
organization, and change. These are the new conversations that will ultimately challenge
the workforce to do better.
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