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A Company of OneInsecurity, Independence, and the New World of White-Collar Unemployment$
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Carrie M. Lane

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449642

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449642.001.0001

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Fortitude, Faith, and the Free Market

(p.1) Introduction
A Company of One

Carrie M. Lane

Cornell University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book sets out to document, in empirical detail, how individualist, pro-market ideologies shape actual people's lives and worldviews through an ethnographic study of white-collar U.S. high-tech workers who lost their jobs in the first years of the twenty-first century. It is about people who espouse a doggedly resilient faith in their ability to improve their own circumstances by doing what they have to do. It is about a neoliberal faith in individual agency, the logic and efficiency of the free market, and the naturalness of the status quo system of insecure employment. The book argues that these workers were neither passive victims nor empowered free agents. How they saw the world, and the choices they made as they navigated through it, were the product of the historical and cultural context in which they lived.

Keywords:   unemployment, unemployed, white-collar workers, tech workers, American workers, ethnographic study

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