Tales of Hustling in the Digital Economy

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


For the workshop I take departure in my ethnographic work following Poshmark Seller Stylists, where over the past 2.5 years I been a participant observer on the app, as well as other digital sites where Seller Stylists hang out, (Facebook, Instagram, Reddit & YouTube). I have also attended the company’s annual two-day conference, Poshfest 2019, in Pheonix AZ, and Poshfest 2020 held online. I explore Poshmark as a site of hustling, pulling threads from its historical understanding, reserved for pool room hustlers, street corner societies, drug dealers and sex workers, to its reincarnation as a neoliberal make-do ideology. Somewhere in between these two meanings is a generative discussion about work which is dirty/stigmatized and criminal versus clean/justified and necessary, and the way platform economies have shifted these meanings through formalizing and celebrating make-do narratives. This becomes especially interesting in a case that is so highly gendered, and when we consider that female hustles have moved from sex work to post-feminist ideology. Hustling, in the way Seller Stylists celebrate it, re-routes precarity into fulfillment, individualizing systemic problems such as student debt, and lack of maternal benefits. This aligns with the labour histories of multi-level marketing, a band aid for systemic challenges which are met through home-based businesses. Poshmark, like its historical counterparts is a type of labour that rather than challenging predominant political economic structures, upholds that which exists outside of it. However, like other forms of digital hustling this sets a dangerous precedent, formalizing this employment relation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventThe Hustle Economy: Race, Gender and Digital Entrepreneurship - WWW
Duration: 20 May 202120 May 2021


WorkshopThe Hustle Economy
Internet address

Cite this