Precarity and Asymmetries in Media Production: How Freelancers Experience their Working Conditions as Users of Coworking Spaces.
Abstract: This master’s thesis investigates how freelancers experience job precarity and asymmetrical power relations which have been established within the media production industry as well as the relevance and value of coworking spaces providing a workspace with the possibilities of knowledge sharing, networking and community building, as a framework in order to challenge their precarious working conditions. Furthermore, the research aims at examining the participants’ experiences in a qualitative manner to explore those rather new concepts of freelancing and coworking spaces as previous research has failed to address the individual experiences of how freelancers deal with the nature of work in the media production industry. Situated in the context of the structural changes within media production towards a project-based nature of work and the decrease of permanent employment, freelancers are increasingly facing precarious working conditions such as uncertainty and instability. Applying the theory of structure and agency as theoretical framework, it is discussed to what extent freelancers are influenced by the established structures, rules and norms within the media production industry and how their agency is enabled within these structures. Using a qualitative research approach, this study is based on an investigation of the experiences and knowledge of eleven freelancers working in the media production industry and who are users of coworking spaces by the means of semi-structured interviews. In summary, this thesis reveals that the majority of the participants experience asymmetrical power relations and precarity to a high degree. Furthermore, freelancers who seek for communities in order to challenge their precarious working conditions, experience coworking spaces as highly valuable concept in order to increase the possibilities for their individual agency. Having investigated those rather novel concepts, this thesis serves as a starting point for examining further research on freelancers’ individual experiences of their working conditions.
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