Favours within 'the tribe': Social support in coworking spaces

Wright, Adrian orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2803-212X, Marsh, Dorota orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5042-1407 and Wibberley, Gemma orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7827-8227 (2022) Favours within 'the tribe': Social support in coworking spaces. New Technology, Work and Employment, 37 (1). pp. 59-78. ISSN 0268-1072

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/ntwe.12214


Emerging from the changing social, technological and cultural changes to work, coworking has been positioned as a new economic engine composed of collaboration and community, providing support for entrepreneurship, innovation and soft infrastructure for economic development. However, an alternative interpretation of coworking suggests it responds to the isolation and insecurity of self-employment by the formation of ‘community’ to provide mutual support to navigate precarious work conditions. Faced with contrasting accounts of coworking, using in-depth interviews and ethnography of a coworking space, this paper explores the support members of the community offer by drawing on the concept of social support. It contributes to our understanding of social support in an entrepreneurial context and explores a more nuanced and darker side to social support in coworking spaces. While coworkers engaged with others to provide emotional, informational and instrumental support, social support also revealed exchange relationships underpinned by reciprocity, which reinforced precarious work conditions.

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