Home/work: considering freelancing and (re)productive work in the home

Authors: Nancy Worth*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Economic Geography, Canada
Keywords: freelancing; labour; economic geography; social reproduction; work from home
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Millennials (born from 1980-1995) are now the majority of workers in Ontario, Canada; they are also the generation most likely to be freelancers. For many who entered the workforce after the economic crisis of 2008-2009, uncertainty and flexibility in working life is an expected norm. While we know that freelancing is a growing sector of the labour market, there is less understanding about the wider consequences of this change, including why millennials become freelancers, how they make sense of this form of labour (is it flexible, precarious or both), and how they manage freelancing with other forms of work at home. Using working life story interviews with millennial freelancers in Toronto, this paper opens up analytical space for labour geographies in three ways: i) As employment relations change, freelancing and temporary contracts are becoming the norm; how do narratives about freelancing contribute to the shift away from the expectations of the standard employment relationship (of a full-time, permanent job with benefits)? ii) Existing research often divides unpaid social reproductive labour and paid productive labour, where the worker sells her labour to her employer. What are the relations between these forms of work when the worker is self-employed, theoretically exploiting her own labour for pay while also doing other forms of work for free? iii) Finally, how do we conceptualize the home—which has always been a place of work—but is now used in new ways as paid work moves out of traditional workplaces?

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