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The examination of the expression “real job” has the potential to help us move towards a
more expansive discourse when it comes to employment. One also has to be careful to
not overly romanticize the freedom associated with freelance, which is perceived as a more
independent work style. Even the notion of “free range,” “free agent” or “independent” is
misleading, because freelancers are interdependently inked to their network, community
and enterprise as explored in the previous chapter “The Liminal Freelance Landscape:
Geography, Proximity, and Community.” On the new work frontier, company loyalty is
being replaced by an allegiance to your network of friends who recognize your value and
worth. Here a more transient, team-based, relationally driven workforce bound by talent,
skills, and improvisational ability is redefining and expanding what it means to have a “real
job.”
With more workers graduating from design, film, communication and writing programs
this has already increased the competition in this cohort group. Yet, these individuals are
working and in demand because of their experience, professionalism, and level of
expertise. With their adaptable natures, they are not looking back but reimagining their
next act “even after the current financial fiasco finishes pounding the remains of ‘free agent’
optimism against the wall of harsh circumstances” (Jacoby D., 2009, 650). This is why we
can’t squander such a valuable resource because these media makers, even with
compressed budgets and delayed paychecks, are still moving forward. What are the
challenges, precariousness, and rewards of freelance work? How do these individuals
squelch the fear of not knowing when living with economic turbulence and what motivates
them? This is helpful for all individuals as more and more businesses are taking on the
contractor model. These stories reflect a sobering reality taking hold on the psyche of new
economy workers as the dot-com party of “high risk, high reward” crashes and yet their
adaptive abilities are allowing them to creatively live a life in spite of adversity.
Freelance Performance Pressure: The Challenges And
Adaptations
The workforce is unbound. There is a shift that is requiring less of an emphasis on
hierarchical management and more responsibility is being heaped onto the shoulders of the
individual that requires management of self. Rosalind Gill in “Life As A Pitch” suggests that
what we are witnessing is the emergence of a new worker and management style:
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