Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

David Grazian


This dissertation investigates the effects of new economy employment relationships like gig work and tech work on worker identification with their employer, operationalized here as “organizational belonging.” Ethnographic and interview methods in two settings – a tech startup referred to as Watermark and a gig economy platform called Instacart – were conducted to generate analyses on how workers and organizations collaborate to produce context-specific professional identities (or not). New economy employment relationships were found to have variable effects on worker identity. At Watermark, workers were offered a wide variety of mechanisms by which to self-identify with the company, but the company’s culture strained to accommodate diverse viewpoints as the company grew. In contrast, Instacart workers experienced little organizational attachment. Work tasks were managed wholly by an ambiguous algorithmic management system, and workers often found themselves slung between the organizational logics of their digital employer and the brick and mortar grocery stores where their work took place. In response to turn-of-the-century concerns about whether individuals can sustain robust identities without close ties to organizations, this dissertation suggests that 1) organizational belonging is a non-binary phenomenon, impacted both by organizational practices and by individual work history, and 2) not everyone seeks to be identified with their work.

Included in

Sociology Commons