Calle Knight, born and raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, learned early on in her academic career at Poughkeepsie Day School how establish academic connections founded on serious inquiry, and hasn’t stopped since. After transferring to Eugene Lang College at The New School, she was exposed to the concept of Digital Labor, and has delved deeper into the subject through many advanced courses resulting in publications, and an Academic Fellowship. In academia, her greatest interests lie with unwaged affective labor, digital performativity, and the impact of the gig — often referred to as “sharing”— economy on inter/national labor laws and customs. In her personal life, her greatest interests lie with cooking and baking paleo/gluten-free/vegan treats, falling in love with animals, and enjoying her two homes.
Gigonomics, Homo Economicus, and the Establishment of an On-Call Culture
The United States of America has long been seen as “The Land of Opportunity;” a place where perseverance and dedication can allow anyone to achieve their definition of success. Traditionally, full-time formal employment has been seen as the way to achieve what has become known as the “American Dream,” and millions of college-age teens and adults alike work harder than ever before to maintain their corporate and professional ties, especially in the wake of the 2007 Great Recession. While making small sums off of odd jobs, formally known as “piecework,” has been a staple of low and lower middle class economies for decades, The Great Recession revamped Gigwork, bringing an alternative to the crumbling corporate economy and its subsequent pros and cons to the attention of all ages in the upper middle and upper classes (Brown 2014).Gigwork can be an empowering form of neoliberal self-employment, allowing for autonomy, flexibility, and a seemingly limitless horizon of potentiality—however the Gig Economy has the power to further exploit employees—demanding more, sporadic work for equal or lesser pay without benefits, and appearing seemingly impossible to organize—and is forcing workers to become glued to their devices to receive the next gig.Therefore, despite the autonomy and accessibility made possible by the gig economy, this new form of labor is contributing to an on call culture, where constant connection and mandatory affect allow traditional forms of exploitation to translate to the unregulated digital space. In this way, the very characteristics intended to liberate workers in the gig economy—autonomy and flexibility—are turning this idealized new economy into a Wild West of worker exploitation preying on the underemployed and perpetual youth.