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 5: On becoming a freelance creative professional

Ellen Van Wijk and Peter Leisink

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


Ellen Van Wijk and Peter Leisink INTRODUCTION Self-employment is no exception among professionals. In fact, many creative professionals are self-employed or work freelance. There are also many creative professionals who have regular jobs, but a majority of these have at some time considered leaving their employment in order to become selfemployed. For graphic designers, to take one category of creative professionals, selfemployment is an essential characteristic of the social identity of the professional group. In the construction of the identity of graphic designers, art colleges, design journals, professional associations and informal networks play an important role (Julier 2000). As with social identities in general, the existence of this social identity depends on its continuous reproduction by the graphic designers; this, in our opinion, is not an automatic reproduction but a reflexive process in which the graphic designer makes personal choices at different stages of his or her career. These choices, at the end of art college and during the professional career, are made in private discourse with the publiclyconstructed social identity; they are fed by experiences within and outside the profession, and influenced by personal appreciation of the profession and perceptions of the possibilities and constraints of self-employment. The aim of this chapter is to gain a clearer insight into the dynamics of becoming a freelance and the role of the perception of identity in this process. By focusing the analysis on graphic designers in paid employment, it will be possible to confront the meaning which these designers give to...

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