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Freelancing Expertise: Contract Professionals in the New Economy (Collection on Technology and Work) Paperback – September 17, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0801476563 ISBN-10: 0801476569 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

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"Osnowitz provides a thorough analysis of high-skilled contracting arrangements with a focus on how contractors experience their working lives. . . . The strength of this book lies in the author's rich descriptions of contractors’ experiences . . . paying particular attention to the way that expertise defines the lives of her informants. . . . She also offers a rich depiction of the ambiguities in the contractors’ roles . . . present [in organizations] as commercial suppliers rather than as members."—Matthew Bidwell, ILR Review (January 2012)



"The book examines the nature of freelance work from a number of angles: the relative advantages and disadvantages and the calculus made by the freelancers; the way in which they have to display their expertise (the 'performance'); their experience of marginalization when working for and on the premises of employing organizations; their utilization of networks and the way they manage their (non-organizational) careers. The book widens its lens with a reconsideration of the implications of contracting for the nature of work relations. . . . The book's undoubted strengths are to be found in the imaginative, open-minded and thorough-going nature of the assessments made . . . [and its] underlying values-driven commitment to fairness and equity in the landscape of diverse forms of work."—John Storey, British Journal of Industrial Relations (September 2012)



"Freelancing Expertise is a detailed and nuanced description of important dimensions of contracting work today. Debra Osnowitz asks how contractors manage the risks that are entailed when they lack a steady employment contract. While analyzing the experiences of professional contractors in the fields of high technology and publishing, Osnowitz provides comparisons to people in similar occupations who are regular employees and people in similar temporary employment relations but in different occupations. Osnowitz's understanding of how an external labor market works is very original and cutting edge."—Vicki Smith, University of California, Davis, coauthor of The Good Temp



"Debra Osnowitz's compelling analysis identifies the strategies contract workers use to chart careers, the rewards unique to contract work, and the substantial personal risks involved. By contextualizing contract work in a historical perspective and through analysis of in-depth interviews, Freelancing Expertise reveals contract work to be an alternate to, and consequence of, the limited rewards obtained in traditional career jobs. This is a remarkable contribution to understandings of the new economy."—Stephen Sweet, Ithaca College, author of Changing Contours of Work: Jobs and Opportunities in the New Economy



"Freelancing Expertise is an innovative, accessible, and insightful sociological analysis of the dilemmas contract professionals face and address as they navigate risk and seize opportunities in the open labor market of the new economy. Based on her in-depth interviews and close observation of freelance writers, editors, programmers, engineers, Debra Osnowitz reveals the dilemmas that arise for these contract professionals whose external occupational careers intersect productively but tenuously with the internal operations of their organizational clients. Contract professionals continuously reconcile flexibility and economic security, employment and employability, accountability and marginality in their clients' workplaces, and individual and collective action. Osnowitz empirically unpacks the multifaceted processes of social networking and occupational community-building contract professionals deploy to address dilemmas, minimize risk, and maximize opportunity. Documenting thoroughly the limitations of individual action, market mediation through staffing agencies, and collective occupational advocacy, and noting the organizational rather than freelance focus of labor and employment law, Osnowitz concludes with a compelling call for legal reforms that minimize employment risks and strengthen the safety net and social protections for freelance contract professionals of the new economy. Freelancing Expertise is of interest to scholars of work, employment, and labor, college and graduate students in the social sciences, and practitioners and policymakers who are transforming freelance labor markets and employment relations in the new economy."—Daniel B. Cornfield, Vanderbilt University, Editor of Work and Occupations


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