Venture labor : work and the burden of risk in innovative industries /
Gina Neff.
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2012.
xiii, 195 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
0262017482 (hardcover : alk. paper), 9780262017480 (hardcover : alk. paper)
More Details
series title
Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2012.
0262017482 (hardcover : alk. paper)
9780262017480 (hardcover : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-10-01:
As the economic upheaval of the great recession demolished jobs, incomes, and security, risk increased in many areas of people's lives. This book explores the emergence of new forms of entrepreneurial labor in New York City's "Silicon Alley" during the dot-com era of the late 20th century. A key feature of venture labor was the acceptance of individualized risk as the price of participation in the economic boom. Neff (Univ. of Washington) differentiates venture labor from other forms of employment as an investment of skill and effort aimed at future rewards rather than a wage. It features short-term, project-based activities in which individuals act entrepreneurially and occurs primarily in high-technology venues. Starting in 1994, Internet development sparked a revolution in commercial transactions. In 2000, the dot-com bubble burst and brought with it the "crash of venture labor." Using a qualitative approach, Neff describes the economic and social context in which venture labor arose and flourished. She draws more general conclusions about the changing nature of work in a new era and suggests that the "privatization of risk" will intensify. The book thus offers insights for future labor markets. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduate students through researchers. R. L. Hogler Colorado State University
Review Quotes
"Cutting-edge technology, personal fulfillment, maybe even wealth -- in the late 1990s, New York's Silicon Alley promised it all. By showing what became of that promise and the people who believed in it, Gina Neff simultaneously opens a new window on Manhattan at the dawn of the internet age and casts a sharp eye on the increasingly risky world in which we all work today. A fascinating and important book." --Fred Turner , Stanford University; author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture
"Gina Neff gives us a poised and invaluable analysis of how young people fashion a livelihood in a high-risk economy built on constantly shifting ground. Her profile of 'venture labor' is a particularly useful way of explaining why financial speculation drives the new patterns of precarious work." --Andrew Ross , author of No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and Its Hidden Costs
"In her rich fieldwork-based report from Silicon Alley, Gina Neff splendidly captures the bravado and the anguish of the late 1990s pioneers who placed risky bets on controlling their future, only to discover that they were simply preparing the way for a future that soon no longer needed many of them or their firms." --Howard E. Aldrich , Kenan Professor of Sociology & Chair, Department of Sociology, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2012
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Bowker Data Service Summary
In the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, employees of internet startups took risks. In this work, Gina Neff investigates choices made by high-tech workers in New York City's 'Silicon Alley' in the 1990s.
Main Description
In the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, employees of Internet startups took risks--left well-paying jobs for the chance of striking it rich through stock options (only to end up unemployed a year later), relocated to areas that were epicenters of a booming industry (that shortly went bust), chose the opportunity to be creative over the stability of a set schedule. In Venture Labor , Gina Neff investigates choices like these made by high-tech workers in New York City's "Silicon Alley" in the 1990s. Why did these workers exhibit entrepreneurial behavior in their jobs--investing time, energy, and other personal resources that Neff terms "venture labor"--when they themselves were employees and not entrepreneurs? Neff argues that this behavior was part of a broader shift in society in which economic risk shifted away from collective responsibility toward individual responsibility. In the new economy, risk and reward took the place of job loyalty, and the dot-com boom helped glorify risks. Company flexibility was gained at the expense of employee security. Through extensive interviews, Neff finds not the triumph of the entrepreneurial spirit but a mixture of motivations and strategies, informed variously by bravado, naïveté, and cold calculation. She connects these individual choices with larger social and economic structures, making it clear that understanding venture labor is of paramount importance for encouraging innovation and, even more important, for creating sustainable work environments that support workers.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
The Social Risks of the Dot-Com Erap. 1
The Origins and Rise of Venture Laborp. 39
Being Venture Labor: Strategies for Managing Riskp. 69
Why Networks Failedp. 101
The Crash of Venture Laborp. 133
Conclusion: Lessons from a New Economy for a New Medium?p. 149
Notesp. 167
Bibliographyp. 177
Indexp. 189
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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