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The Company We Keep

Occupational Community in the High-Tech Network Society

Daniel Marschall

Publication Year: 2012

At the birth of the Internet Age, computer technologists in small, aggressive software development companies became part of a unique networked occupational community. They were creative, team-oriented, and enthusiastic workers who built "boundaryless careers," hopping from one employer to another.

In his absorbing ethnography The Company We Keep, sociologist Daniel Marschall immerses himself in IntenSivity, one such technological workplace. Chronicling the employees' experiences, Marschall examines how these workers characterize their occupational culture, share values and work practices, and help one another within their community. He sheds light on the nature of this industry marked by highly skilled jobs and rapid technological change.

The experiences at IntenSivity are now mirrored by employees at Facebook and thousands of other cutting-edge, high-tech start-up firms. The Company We Keep helps us understand the emergence of virtual work communities and the character of the contemporary labor market at the level of a small enterprise.

Published by: Temple University Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-v

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pp. vii-ix

This book is based on five years of in-depth ethnographic research, during the period of the Internet stock bubble and shortly after its collapse, at a small software development firm in the labor market region surrounding Washington, DC. When conducting an ...

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Prologue First Encounters of a Techie Kind

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pp. 1-8

Though steadily receding in our collective memory, the period of the technology bubble that preceded the housing bubble that burst into the Great Recession retains its standing as a time of remarkable prosperity for the U.S. economy. For eight consecutive years, ...

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1. Network Society and Occupational Community

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pp. 9-36

Once the U.S. Congress completes its deliberations and the humidity rises to barely tolerable levels, the summer months in the regional labor market surrounding Washington, DC, are generally uneventful, a good time for contemplation, vacation, and ...

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2. Setting: A “Monster Soft Dev Shop” in Silicon Swamp

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pp. 37-50

IntenSivity emerged during a period of rapid change in regional economic structures and the widespread diffusion of the Internet as a popular communication medium. This chapter contextualizes the company’s growth by recounting pertinent dynamics of the Internet ...

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3. Constructing Occupational Identity

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pp. 51-81

Conceptualizing computer programming as a fun and all-consuming activity best practiced by talented intellectuals, IntenSivity’s founders sought to establish the sort of organization in which they would enjoy working. This chapter demonstrates the ...

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4. Forging Bonds on Projects and Products

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pp. 83-111

During my early fieldwork visits to the neighborhood offices, I noticed that no one seemed to have a stable office location. After more than 20 years in various service-sector jobs in nonprofit associations, government agencies, and union organizations, ...

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5. Language and the Persistence of Community

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pp. 113-144

From the outset, Vince and Adam accorded enhanced communication a paramount role in conceptualizing the company’s ideology, core values, founding story, approach to projects, and product development methodology. Externally, beyond the boundaries of the ...

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Epilogue: Remembering the “Wild Ride” . . . and What Happened to Its Participants

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pp. 145-154

During the 10 years that followed the beginning of my research (in early 2000) on this shifting community of computer technologists, the public spotlight on software developers and the Internet infrastructure they created underwent several important shifts, ...


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pp. 155-170


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pp. 171-184


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pp. 185-192

About the Author

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pp. 193-193

E-ISBN-13: 9781439907573
Print-ISBN-13: 9781439907559

Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 7
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 823938958
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Company We Keep

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Occupations -- Sociological aspects -- Case studies.
  • Group identity -- Case studies.
  • Organizational behavior -- Case studies.
  • Business networks -- Social aspects -- Case studies.
  • Internet industry -- Employees -- Case studies.
  • Industrial sociology -- Case studies.
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