A business journalist who has written for Quartz and Mashable takes a closer look at the shifting tides of work in the United States, from the norm of a steady nine-to-five to contingent "gigs" that offer workers greater flexibility—and precarity.
She follows freelancers as they try, and mostly fail, to find a better way to make a living ... the journalist offer[s] a deep look at what [David] Graeber calls our 'civilization based on work'—and what’s so often unsatisfying about living in it ... The gig economy turns out to be less a brave new world than an opportunity for companies to transfer risks to their employees and offer few benefits in return. Kessler concludes that reinventing work without also reinventing the social safety net 'can’t quite count as progress' ... A UBI, which is a guaranteed government stipend, might grant Kessler’s freelancers the freedom they were looking for. The question would then be: freedom to do what?
Kessler knows her subject well having covered the gig economy as a senior writer at Fast Company and managed startup coverage at Mashable. It is a book presumably written by a Millennial author for Millennial and Gen Z readers who will find it relevant and interesting. Novice tech readers may be challenged by the book’s dive into personal and corporate technology issues and will likely find it dense. Technology companies and startups such as Mechanical Turk, Deliveroo, UpWork, GIN and Managed by Q will be entities outside of their knowledge base. Many such readers would probably not read the book, but it might make a good gift to a tech savvy 20 or 30 year old.
Reporter Kessler's insightful exploration argues that the increase of people working as freelancers rather than employees of organizations is largely owing to technology that allows workers to deliver services coordinated by apps. Much of the book is devoted to the experiences of four very different people making their way in the new gig economy. This gives texture to the portrayal of the gig economy but does not prevent Kessler from offering more general reflections ... An appealing choice, chiefly for those interested in the effects of the gig economy on workers.