Identity in the Age of the New Economy

Identity in the Age of the New Economy

Life in Temporary and Scattered Work Practices

Edited by Torben Elgaard Jensen and Ann Westenholz

Identity in the Age of the New Economy is a multi-faceted view of contemporary employment and identity that questions a number of the myths related to the so-called new economy, knowledge society or network society. It argues that one of the most striking things about much contemporary theorizing on work and identity is the epochalist terms in which it is framed: changing forms of identity and subjectivity are assumed to be consequences of a shift to an entirely new economic, social and cultural era, signalled by concepts such as postmodernity, risk society, network society or new economy.

Chapter 3: The networking arena

Torben Elgaard Jensen

Subjects: business and management, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


Torben Elgaard Jensen ‘We offer a place to grow both your business and yourself’. This inviting statement appears on the homepage of the company that will be studied in the present chapter. The company, called United Spaces, is an office hotel located in Stockholm and in Copenhagen. Its basic service is to provide a shared office space for small innovative firms. But space is merely one element; United Spaces calls itself a network office, and it actively works to create an environment and a culture in which ‘networking’ will flourish and grow. This ambition is clearly visible in the physical layout of the company. In Copenhagen, United Spaces is located on the ground floor of a new office building on the harbour front. One large room called the networking arena dominates the ground floor. This is an open office space with sixty workstations arranged in small groups. A mobile Intranet is installed, which allows the members to access the Internet and the local printer from their laptops regardless of their position in the room. The two managers encourage the members of United Spaces to place themselves and their laptops at a new workstation every day. Through this mingling, they argue, every member will ‘automatically’ generate a broad array of contacts. United Spaces is thus trying to localize and enhance a particular form of practice, which is often referred to as networking. As indicated by the opening quotation, this practice is believed to grow businesses as well as selves. The aim...

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