Online citations, reference lists, and bibliographies.
← Back to Search

The Ambivalence Of Coworking: On The Politics Of An Emerging Work Practice

G. de Peuter, Nicole S. Cohen, Francesca Saraco
Published 2017 · Sociology

Save to my Library
Download PDF
Analyze on Scholarcy
Share
Self-employed media and cultural workers are key users of co-working spaces, where a growing number of independent workers share desks and office amenities, escape the isolation of working from home and seek contacts for paid work. Informed by interviews with coworking space operators and members, this article assesses coworking as a response to precarity. We argue that social and political ambivalence is intrinsic to the culture of coworking. First, we situate coworking in a political–economic context, claiming that coworking emerged as a worker-developed response to changing economic conditions but, in its current form, is increasingly commodified and ultimately reinforces labour flexibilization. Second, we survey meanings attached to coworking, highlighting tensions between coworking’s counter-corporate identity and its recapitulation of neoliberal norms. Third, we address subjectivity formation, proposing that coworking spaces are a stage for the performance of network sociality. We conclude by considering coworking’s political potential as a platform for collective action. This article forms part of the Special Issue ‘On the Move’, which marks the twentieth anniversary of European Journal of Cultural Studies.
This paper references
Collaborate or Compete: How Do Landlords Respond to the Rise in Coworking?
R. Green (2014)
10.1002/(SICI)1520-6696(200024)36:1<92::AID-JHBS40>3.0.CO;2-W
Inventing our selves: Psychology, power, and personhood
Angel J. Gordo-Lpez (2000)
Is passionate work a neoliberal delusion? openDemocracy, 22 April
A Mcrobbie (2015)
Working in the Unoffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits
G Deguzman (2011)
is an assistant professor in the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology at the University of Toronto Mississauga
S Nicole
10.1038/067196a0
Mutual Aid, a Factor of Evolution
F. H. (1903)
Building new places of the creative economy: the rise of coworking spaces
B. Moriset (2013)
10.25071/1705-1436.164
PRECARIOUS EMPLOYMENT IN THE CANADIAN LABOUR MARKET: A STATISTICAL PORTRAIT
Cynthia J. Cranford (1969)
10.1177/0263276408097794
In the Social Factory?
Rosalind M. Gill (2008)
A (2008) In the Social Factory? Immaterial labour, precariousness and cultural work. Theory, Culture
R Gill (2008)
Employment Quality – Trending Down (Canadian employment quality index)
B 471–490. Tal (2015)
Inside WeLive, WeWork's dorm-style take on urban housing
M Rhodes
Coworking in the city
J. Merkel (2015)
10.4337/9781781000977.00018
Good work? Rethinking cultural entrepreneurship
Kathryn Oakley (2013)
Inside WeLive, WeWork’s dorm-style take on urban housing. Wired, 4 April
M Rhodes (2016)
10.1215/00382876-3130701
Entrepreneurship as the New Common Sense
Imre Szeman (2015)
Will ‘alt-labor’ replace unions? Salon, 29 January
J Eidelson (2013)
The start of coworking (from the guy that started it)
Neuberg B n.D
The New Spirit of Capitalism (trans. G Elliott)
L Boltanski (2005)
10.1177/1050651912444070
Working Alone Together
C. Spinuzzi (2012)
10.4324/9781315678405-18
Co-working communities: Sustainability citizenship at work
T. Butcher (2016)
Hoffice turns your apartment into a free–and incredibly productive – coworking space
A Peters (2015)
10.1111/AREA.12279
Socio‐economic profile and working conditions of freelancers in co‐working spaces and work collectives: evidence from the design sector in Greece
Vasilis Avdikos (2017)
10.2139/ssrn.2502813
Coworking Spaces and the Localized Dynamics of Innovation in Barcelona
I. Capdevila (2014)
10.1108/F-08-2014-0066
Typologies for co-working spaces in Finland – what and how?
Inka Kojo (2016)
A Grammar of the Multitude: For an Analysis of Contemporary Forms of Life
P. Virno (2004)
10.4337/9781783477920.00008
What can the coworking movement tell us about the future of workplaces
P. Salovaara (2015)
Francesca Saraco received her MA in communication studies from Wilfrid Laurier University
Almost 80% of UK self-employed workers living in poverty. Newsweek, 3 February
C Phillips (2015)
Coworking began at Regus ... but not the way they think. Deskmag, 4 April
J Dullroy (2012)
A (2011) Working in the Unoffice: A Guide to Coworking for Indie Workers, Small Businesses, and Nonprofits
G DeGuzman (2011)
Will 'alt-labor' replace unions? Salon
J Eidelson
10.3898/NEWF.88.04.2016
Fighting precarity with co-operation?: Worker co-operatives in the cultural sector.
Marisol Sandoval (2016)
WeWork, SEIU reach deal on office cleaners
C Ramey (2015)
Greig de Peuter is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University
2016) Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, a New Vision for the Future of Work and a Fairer Internet
T Scholz (2016)
10.1177/0950017003017002008
Self-Employed Workers: Calling the Shots or Hesitant Independents? A Consideration of the Trends
D. Smeaton (2003)
The political economy of work
C. Calhoun (1981)
First results of the new global coworking survey. Deskmag, 20 November
C Foertsch (2015)
co-operative-identity-values-principles International Labor Organization (ILO) (2015) World Employment Social Outlook: The Changing Nature of Jobs
I Hatfield (2015)
10.1080/10630732.2017.1348879
The Reputation Economy: Understanding Knowledge Work in Digital Society
B. Moriset (2017)
Toward an open co-operativism: A new social economy based on open platforms, co-operative models and the commons
P Conaty (2014)
Almost 80% of UK self-employed workers living in poverty
C Phillips (2015)
Is being self-employed becoming the new normal? New Statesman, 7 January
I Hatfield (2015)
10.1177/026327601018006003
Toward a Network Sociality
Andreas Wittel (2001)
The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society (trans. G Elliot)
P Dardot (2013)
10.1057/kmrp.2013.47
Coworking: assessing the role of proximity in knowledge exchange
L. Parrino (2015)
10.2139/SSRN.2770874
The Social Economy of Coworking Spaces: A Focal Point Model of Coordination
J. Waters-Lynch (2017)
Act IV, 8 August
T Bacigalupo (2014)
Employment Quality – Trending Down (Canadian employment quality index)
B 471–490. Tal (2015)
A Postcapitalist Politics
Katherine D. Gibson (2006)
10.2307/2227118
White Collar: The American Middle Classes.
F. Thistlethwaite (1951)
10.2189/asqu.2005.50.2.312
No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and its Hidden Costs
Spela Trefalt (2005)
Ours to Hack and to Own: The Rise of Platform Cooperativism, A New Vision For The Future of Work and a Fairer Internet #bcoet #etug @etug @bccampus
G. Potter (2016)
The rise of coworking spaces: a literature review
A. Gandini (2015)
The Workshop: Workplace as a Consumer Good (CBRE)
B Munn (2013)
10.18574/nyu/9780814776292.001.0001
Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times
A. Ross (2008)
Be Creative: Making a Living in the New Culture Industries
Angela Mcrobbie (2016)
Living in ‘beta’: Hubs, collectives and the emergence of moral economies in Athens
A Papageorgiou (2016)
Act IV, 8 August
T Bacigalupo (2014)
Coworking is awesome, let’s keep it that way. Shareable, 9 April
C Johnson (2014)
10.1162/INOV_A_00195
Building Social Entrepreneurship through the Power of Coworking
T. Surman (2013)
10.2139/ssrn.2712217
Coworking: A Transdisciplinary Overview
J. Waters-Lynch (2016)
Commons and co-operatives
G De Peuter (2010)
10.1111/J.1468-005X.2005.00141.X
Hybrid Workspace: Re-Spatialisations of Work, Organisation and Management
S. Halford (2005)



This paper is referenced by
10.1111/GEC3.12463
In the making: Open Creative Labs as an emerging topic in economic geography?
Suntje Schmidt (2019)
10.1177/1367877919882437
Ireland Inc.: The corporatization of affective life in post-Celtic Tiger Ireland
Diane Negra (2020)
Precarity and Asymmetries in Media Production: How Freelancers Experience their Working Conditions as Users of Coworking Spaces
Laurie Heise (2018)
10.1177/1050651918816357
“Coworking Is About Community”: But What Is “Community” in Coworking?
C. Spinuzzi (2019)
10.1177/1367877919878449
The production of subjectivity in neoliberal culture industries: the case of coworking spaces
C. Bandinelli (2020)
10.3390/ijerph16132379
Coworking Spaces: The Better Home Office? A Psychosocial and Health-Related Perspective on an Emerging Work Environment
S. Robelski (2019)
10.1007/978-3-030-10653-9_8
Creative hubs: a co-operative space?
Marisol Sandoval (2019)
10.1016/j.emj.2020.11.005
“Seeing to be seen”: The manager's political economy of visibility in new ways of working
Aurélie Leclercq-Vandelannoitte (2020)
10.1177/1527476419851086
The New Spirit of Capitalism in the Game Industry
Jennifer R. Whitson (2019)
10.31269/TRIPLEC.V16I2.930
One-Dimensional Creativity: A Marcusean Critique of Work and Play in the Video Game Industry
E. Bulut (2018)
10.1142/s0219877020500443
Coworking-space Business Models : Micro-ecosystems and Platforms - Insights from China
R. Bouncken (2020)
10.1177/1367549418810082
The Missing Producer: Rethinking indie cultural production in terms of entrepreneurship, relational labour, and sustainability:
Jennifer R. Whitson (2018)
Des pratiques de légitimation et de l’émergence d’un champ : dix ans de coworking parisien
Aurore Dandoy (2019)
10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.04.014
Coworking spaces in urban settings: Prospective roles?
Davi Nakano (2020)
10.1080/17535069.2019.1674501
Supporting open, shared and collaborative workspaces and hubs: recent transformations and policy implications
Vasilis Avdikos (2020)
10.1007/978-3-030-38246-9_8
‘Meaning and Soul’: Co-working, Creative Career and Independent Co-work Spaces
G. Morgan (2020)
10.1007/978-3-030-26245-7_2
Transformative Changes and Developments of the Coworking Model: A Narrative Review
M. Orel (2020)
10.1093/CCC/TCZ008
An Organized Work Force is Part of Growing Up: Gawker and the Case for Unionizing Digital Newsrooms
R. Prasad (2019)
10.1177/0018726719894633
The affective commons of Coworking
J. Waters-Lynch (2019)
10.1080/10630732.2019.1696144
Coworking Spaces in the Global South: Local Articulations and Imaginaries
Jeremy Tintiangko (2020)
10.1108/oth-10-2019-0074
The perspective of a coworking space model in scholarly settings
Marko Orel (2020)
10.20420/eni.2019.294
El coworking en Canarias: nuevas estructuras de apoyo al emprendimiento y la internacionalización empresarial / Co-working in the Canary Islands: new support structures for enterprise and business internationalisation
Estela Tayri Hernández Santana (2019)
10.1057/s41296-020-00435-z
The politics of precarity
Andrew Schaap (2020)
10.1007/978-3-030-10653-9_5
Hubs vs Networks in the creative economy: Towards a ‘collaborative individualism’
C. Bandinelli (2019)
10.1177/1555412019873746
The Cultural Field of Video Game Production in Australia
B. Keogh (2019)
10.1016/j.geoforum.2020.01.008
Production of coworking spaces: Evidence from Shenzhen, China
Yi-ling Luo (2020)
Stocksy United: A case study of co-operation in the cultural industries
Seamus Grayer (2020)
10.1177/1367549419886060
The third wave of coworking: ‘Neo-corporate’ model versus ‘resilient’ practice:
A. Gandini (2019)
10.1177/0042098018782374
‘Freelance isn’t free.’ Co-working as a critical urban practice to cope with informality in creative labour markets
J. Merkel (2019)
Semantic Scholar Logo Some data provided by SemanticScholar