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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.
In the framework of a critical illustration of the contemporary history of economics, this chapter provides a brief illustration of Wicksell and the Swedish school, Veblen and his institutionalism, Weber and his method, Schumpeter and his notions of statics and dynamics, Keynes and his views on probability and uncertainty as well as on finance and employment
In the wake of the Great Recession, a new cycle of scholarship opened on the history of American capitalism. This occurred, however, without much specification of the subject at hand. In this essay, I offer a conceptualization of capitalism, by focusing on its root—capital. Much historical writing has treated capital as a physical factor of production. Against such a “materialist” capital concept, I define capital as a pecuniary process of forward-looking valuation, associated with investment. Engaging recent work across literatures, I try to show how this conceptualization of capital and capitalism helps illuminate many core dynamics of modern economic life.
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