Notes on Some Features of Knowledge Work: A Social Inquiry Into Knowledge Workers in Turin

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The article summarises the findings of an empirical investigation into the connection between precariousness and innovation, based on interviews with “knowledge workers” in Turin. It offers an interpretation of the city’s transition from a place oriented to the production of durable goods to a factory for creative and cultural industries and services. The interviewees’ narratives revolve around the informal nature of their work relations, which prove crucial for an understanding of their individual life-stories. The informality of these relations is ambivalent. On the one hand, it can be seen as a new way of building a career, associated with a wealth of social relations and possibilities. On the other hand, informality also means individualisation, risk, constant change, and the threat of losing the positions one has attained. Thus the interviews illustrate a compulsive coactive sociality, within which the norm is to remain within the network. Being in the network, an informal area of temporary roles with temporary rights and duties, seems to be the only way to not be excluded from everything: access to contracts / projects, income, identity.
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