Blogging Labour: Utilising the grey zone to pursue mobility in a changing world of work

Jane Parry, Brian Hracs

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    The hybridisation of labour market statuses and careers is approached in this paper through our research on blogging labour. Blogging has triggered a wealth of debate from sociology and cultural studies. Yet there has been relatively little critical attention on work-related blogging, despite evidence that over the lifecourse of many blogs the boundaries between labour and playbor become increasingly complicated. Countering this, Richards (2008) has highlighted the value of blogging in charting and understanding new labour processes. On the basis that blogging can provide insight into how work practices evolve and play out in the digital age, our empirical research, which drew upon 10 purposefully-selected blogs and an analysis of 1,304 blog posts, was used to develop a novel typology of 5 distinctive formations of blogging labour. This typology ranged from individuals who were blogging to resist their paid work conditions (Workbloggers), through to professional bloggers who were relying entirely on their blogs, and their associated commodification, for their income. Within the context of this framework, we analysed how bloggers’ combined their blogging labour with other forms of paid and unpaid work, with consequential effects upon labour mobility.

    We analysed blogs over an extended period of time, using the framework of this typology. This approach shed light upon how bloggers’ relationship between their blogging and any other sources of paid work shifted over time, reflecting their changing motivations, workplace relations, and structural opportunities. So too, blogging can shift from leisure to informal employment, self-employment, and integration with employment. As occupational expectations have become revised in a transformed labour market, paid and unpaid work are combining in complex ways around individual labour market experiences (Pettinger et al., 2005), patterns uncovered in our data echoing broader labour market trends. We discuss movement within our typology in terms of Glucksmann’s ‘total social organisation of labour’ (1995) in order to provide conceptual clarity around these interconnected labour dynamics and mobility, contemplating the relative meaningfulness of the institutional and non-institutional bonds of paid and unpaid work in which bloggers are engaged. It is argued that the new forms of collectivity that can be accumulated through blogging within a specialist community, provide an important resource for bloggers in confronting the complicated demands of establishing professional identity and recognition in a fragmented and precarious labour market. Our focus on this aspect of work-related blogging provides new insight in terms of digitised relationships or solidarities in hybrid areas of work.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationInternational Labour Process Conference
    Subtitle of host publicationFragmentation and Solidarities
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2019


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