Freedom is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose: Entrepreneurialism and the Changing Nature of Employment Relations

Research in the Sociology of Organizations: Reversing the Arrow

47 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2021

See all articles by Robert Eberhart

Robert Eberhart

UCLA

Stephen R. Barley

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering

Andrew J. Nelson

University of Oregon

Date Written: August 13, 2021

Abstract

We explore the acceptance of new contingent work relationships in the United States to reveal an emergent entrepreneurial ideology. Our argument is that these new work relationships represent a new social order not situated in the conglomerates and labor unions of the past but on a confluence of neo-liberalism and individual action situated in the discourse of entrepreneurialism, employability, and free agency. This new employment relationship, which arose during the economic and social disruptions in the 1970s, defines who belongs inside an organization (and can take part in its benefits) and who must properly remain outside to fend for themselves. More generally, the fusing of entrepreneurship with neo-liberalism has altered not only how we work and where we work, but also what we believe is appropriate work and what rewards should accompany it.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, employment, gig work, neo-liberalism, inequality

Suggested Citation

Eberhart, Robert and Barley, Stephen R. and Nelson, Andrew J., Freedom is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose: Entrepreneurialism and the Changing Nature of Employment Relations (August 13, 2021). Research in the Sociology of Organizations: Reversing the Arrow, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3904624

Robert Eberhart (Contact Author)

UCLA ( email )

Los Angeles, CA
United States

Stephen R. Barley

Stanford University - Department of Management Science & Engineering ( email )

473 Via Ortega
Stanford, CA 94305-9025
United States
(650) 723-0519 (Phone)
(650) 723-2826 (Fax)

Andrew J. Nelson

University of Oregon ( email )

Eugene, OR 97403-1208
United States

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