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Geek Jeremiads: Speaking the Crisis of Job Loss by Opposing Offshored and H-1B Labor

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Abstract:

This essay explores how national, ethnic, racial, and gendered identities substituted for class-based ones and illustrates why this metonymy mobilized information technology (IT) workers in 2002–2005. I examine narratives about job loss and insecurity on websites founded by laid-off and otherwise “precarious” white male IT professionals. I argue these narratives form “geek jeremiads” that “speak the crisis” of job loss in ways that negotiate “wages” of white masculinity and preclude robust class struggle during our present gilded age. By blaming offshored and H-1B visa labor, geek jeremiads contribute to a longstanding “herrenvolk-republican” class consciousness. But they also point toward a more inclusive one. I conclude by considering how critical-cultural communication scholars may advance a more inclusive class consciousness.

Keywords: American Jeremiad; Class Consciousness; Crisis in White Masculinity; H-1B Visas; IT Labor and Unions; Offshoring

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420.2011.645490

Publication date: March 1, 2012

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