Autonomy, subordination and dependence: a study on high-skilled solo self-employment

Julieta Longo & Mariana Fernández Massi (2023), Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia

This article explores the characteristics of the labour relationships experienced by freelance graphic designers to answer two questions: What differentiates freelancers’ jobs from classical self-employment and from dependent work? Why do designers choose to work as freelancers? Based on qualitative research conducted in 2021-2022 in Argentina, the article suggests that the new solo self-employment in graphic design can be characterized as hybrid in two senses. Firstly, the employment is hybrid because it combines autonomy and subordination: the designers who were interviewed share characteristics of dependent work and of self-employment. They resemble the former in terms of economic dependence and the nature of what is produced, while the way they set the price and direct the work process brings them closer to the selfemployed. Secondly, workers’ strategy to deal with uncertainty is also hybrid as they combine different jobs to find security and autonomy in their occupation.

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