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7 - Digital Nomads

A New Form of Leisure Class?

from Part II - Digital Platforms and the New World of Work

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 December 2020

Jeremy Aroles
Durham University
François-Xavier de Vaujany
Université Paris-Dauphine
Karen Dale
Lancaster University
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Digital nomadism refers to a mobile lifestyle in which freelancers, digital entrepreneurs and remote workers combine work with continuous travel. In this chapter, we draw from Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1899) to explore whether digital nomads can be seen to constitute a new form of leisure class. In particular, this entails problematising digital nomadism through four dimensions, namely differentiation, emulation, visibility and institutionalisation. Drawing from a qualitative analysis of the mainstream promotional discourse underlying digital nomadism, we show the existence of a whole set of economic activities based on selling a dreamed work/lifestyle to others. These commercial propositions, which rely on online storytelling and visibility, constitute efficient means of emulation that contribute to framing images of success. Our ‘Veblen-inspired’ analysis, we contend, generates a source of questions not only relevant to the study of digital nomadism, but also to miscellaneous aspects of the new world of work.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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