Dissertation Abstracts

The Reputation Economy: Creative Labour and Freelance Networks

Author: Gandini, Alessandro , alessandro.gandini@unimi.it
Department: Department of Social and Political Sciences
University: University of Milan, Italy
Supervisor: Adam Arvidsson
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: reputation , freelance , networks , creative
Areas of Research: Communication, Knowledge and Culture , Economy and Society , Organization


In recent decades, a large number of what have been called “creative” and “cultural” industries, have flourished all over the Western neoliberal economy. These "creative" and "cultural" industries can be broadly defined as industries in which economic value is generated through mechanisms of valorization of knowledge, innovation, and creativity (DCMS 1998, 2001; Hesmondhalgh 2002; Florida, 2002; Hesmondhalgh and Pratt 2005; Pratt 2008). This has a wide range of both theoretical and practical implications. The present research focuses on the diffusion of freelance work in this sector. The term “freelance” refers to a form of self-organized work that is not subject to a formally stable and continuous dependent relationship with a single firm or employer (McRobbie 2002; Christopherson 2002, 2008).

This dissertation asks: to what extent does reputation emerge as the key factor over skills, education, and trust, in determining the income of creative independent professionals both offline and online? Is it possible to argue that a 'reputation economy' exists? This question is explored through the study of two informal networks of creative freelancers in Milan and London, combined with the analysis of an international online marketplace dedicated to independent contractors.

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