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Spatio-temporal un-boundedness: A feature, not a bug, of self-employment

Cohen, R. L. ORCID: 0000-0003-4560-1590 (2019). Spatio-temporal un-boundedness: A feature, not a bug, of self-employment. American Behavioral Scientist, doi: 10.1177/0002764218794781


This article considers whether unbounded times and spaces of work are systematically associated with self-employment. In contrast to analyses that frame the spatial and temporal location of work as signifying autonomy or freedom, it posits that self-employment is produced by, and then reproduces, constraints on and preferences about spatio-temporal organisation at both occupational and individual level. Using data from five years of the UK Labour Force Survey (2013-17) the article takes a novel approach in the quantitative analysis of self-employment by conducting intra-occupational analysis within each of four relatively homogenous occupational groups: hairdressers, shopkeepers, arts workers and accountants. Analysis shows that: 1) at population-level self-employment is strongly associated with both spatial and temporal unboundedness; 2) these effects are stronger for women than men; 3) in intra-occupational analyses, gender, alongside other socio-demographic measures, is largely non-significant, suggesting that the relationship between these and self-employment is primarily produced by differences associated with occupational segregation; 4) the association between self-employment and different types of spatio-temporal unboundedness varies markedly by occupation. The article points to the importance of occupation and the spatio-temporal organisation of concrete work activity in understanding the reproduction of self-employment. It concludes, therefore, that spatio-temporal unboundedness should be considered as a feature, or structural component, of self-employment, not a choice or by-product.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Cohen, R. L. (2018). Spatio-temporal un-boundedness: A feature, not a bug, of self-employment. American Behavioral Scientist, Copyright © 2018 The Author. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Publisher Keywords: Work-life boundaries, working time, gender, self-employment, occupation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
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