LinkedIn as a part of projective city : strategic networking

I recently subscribed to LinkedIn, wanting to know how video game developers use it as a tool to promote themselves in the developers community. I made my own cv-profile and rapidly got “in touch” with a few of them but I asked myself: hummm….what’s next? Okay, well, I’ve done my CV things but what can I do next? Facebook, for example, gives much more options to interact or share with friends but…wait! They aren’t friends but contacts, professional contacts who insert in a network that celebrate employability. What does it mean?

newspiritEmployability is the keyword of projective city, concept created by Chiapello and Boltanski in The New Spirit of Capitalism (2007). But first of all, let’s define what they meant by city:

Cities present themselves as constraint forms that limit possibilities to act in a certain world in which they embrace and legitimate its logic (p.174, my translation)

In other words, the city (for cité in French) is a theoretical model that focus on actors motivations and the values they agree with.  Boltanski created the concept with Thévenot in their earlier work On Justification: Economies of Worth (2006) where they defined the inspired, domestic, opinion, civic, market, and industrial cities.

Projective city (for cité par projet) presents as: “a constraints system affecting a network-like world and inducing connections only by respecting the justified action of the projects.” (p.174, my translation)

It means that one’s connection in the network will always have to be of use, in a utilitarian perspective: the goal being to always grow the network in size, getting more and more contacts. Each contact, or link, must give an opportunity to increase one’s network since the stagnancy equals the failure in the projective city. Employability is a super important aspect here and since workers go from one project to another, they want to be sure that they’ll find another project to work on, etc.

linkedshows up as the perfect tool to network with people since you can make a link with anybody who might share any aspect of his CV with yours. This “contract”, if I may say so, stipulate that each person becomes related to another one by a symbolic link meaning that “we are related by a common objective, which is the increase our respective networks”.

Profiles are actually cv-like: you learn about a person’s competences, work experience, recommendations by fellow employers/workers, formation, etc. Being a scholar, I was perplexed since I don’t have a long work history and couldn’t participate to this employment celebration. Because it is a celebration: you won’t be noticed about someone’s birthday but about his or her work anniversary. You will also be noticed if one of your contact creates a new link with a person you may know and even link with yourself.

In projective city, the network size correlate with one’s achievement, because it allows the employment by projects. Like Boltanski and Chiapello argued, the accomplished worker in this city must only keep the persons that may help him to increase his network, otherwise, it’s a waste. In return, the networker will have the satisfaction of being surrounded by useful persons, hoping that his network will help him to achieve on a (new) project.

As a freelance anthropologist wanting to work on research projects, this is a reflection I recently had and which made me uncomfortable. Do I have to create a “persona” gifted with so many capacities and qualities? Since anthropology hasn’t made a reputation in Montreal’s business world, I can’t rely on my diploma solely. I have to create a self that embodies the traits that are normally found in the business world, which will give me access to projects. The point here is not that I want to criticize business ethos, but to put forward the difference that emerge between social and more “applied” sciences about employment. Unlike us, more “applied” departments do learn about how to get a job, how to present a concrete and production oriented project, etc.

However, this will be the situation of many graduate students in social sciences who are not willing to join the academy. There isn’t much opportunities for us on the job market and the institutions that recruits graduates tend to reduce their recruitment as government reduces expenses.

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