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Breaking the contract: digital nomads and the state

Cook, David; Cook, David; (2022) Breaking the contract: digital nomads and the state. Critique of Anthropology , 42 (3) pp. 304-323. 10.1177/0308275X221120172. Green open access

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This article explores ethnographically how digital nomads reconcile their commitment to ‘freedom’ with their relationships to state institutions. It analyses the ways these ‘global citizens’ attempt to weaken ties with nation-states and challenge state–citizen relations in areas of work, citizenship, and mobility. On the surface, digital nomads appear to break the ‘social contract’ via borderless subjectivities, or via the creation of transnational businesses. Yet in practice they remain entangled in multiple state institutions, both directly and via corporate entities, to get closer to their hotly desired ‘freedom’. This article explores digital nomads’ attempts to ‘opt-out’ or ‘re-draw’ the social contract, and illustrates the tension between the imagined social contract and how actual state–citizen relations develop over time and are experienced through the filters of global corporations, free markets, and entrepreneurial thinking.

Type: Article
Title: Breaking the contract: digital nomads and the state
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0308275X221120172
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/0308275X221120172
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2022. Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC 4.0) This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage). Request permissions for this article.
Keywords: Science & Technology, Life Sciences & Biomedicine, Anthropology, citizenship, globalisation, mobility, neoliberalism, self-management, social contract, travel, work, WORK
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10166252
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