Toward a Theory of Atypical Media Work and Social Hope


  • Mark Deuze The University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Johana Kotišová Masaryk University, Czech Republic
  • Gemma Newlands BI Norwegian Business School, Norway
  • Erwin van‘t Hof The University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands



Media labour, Atypical work, freelance, Precarity, Autonomy, Journalism


Most media work today takes place under atypical conditions, i.e. media professionals such as journalists, musicians, filmmakers, advertising creatives and game developers generally work without open-ended contracts. In this essay, a theory of atypical media work is outlined highlighting this way of working and being at work from the current culture of capitalism. Further, it also throws light on how dualisms, dominating the discourse on media work – such as contracted versus freelance labour, primary and secondary sector employment, good versus bad jobs, paid versus unpaid work – are not as useful as they seem to be is shown. It also delves into the different ways of making precarity, precariousness, constrained autonomy and lack of agency and highlights themas the key problematic features of atypical work – productive (beyond productivity narratives). Throughout the argument, the reasons and motivations for (doing and studying) atypical media work are articulated with a distinct sense of shared social hope.



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