FlexMediaLives aims to provide new data and new analytical frameworks to understand the adjustments made by individuals throughout their careers in social worlds governed by flexible labor markets, such as those for journalists in the media. The journalists’ labor market is particularly interesting to this project because while they suffer from a high (and increasing) level of job uncertainty in most societies, journalists play an important role in democracies. Their social status is thus a very important public issue. This labor market will be analyzed from a comparative point of view contrasting the cases of France, the UK and Brazil.

This project has a very strong methodological dimension. It notably draws on the collection, coding and analysis of very large volumes of data drawn from public profiles of journalists and former journalists on the social and professional network LinkedIn. These data will be analyzed using longitudinal methods to monitor the career of quasi-cohorts of journalists since the 1980’s. The method is innovative and has a high potential for breakthrough in the social sciences.

FlexMediaLives finally has a high potential for social impact because the practice of documenting one’s career online is spreading today. LinkedIn platform for instance claims 300 million users worldwide in 2014. More and more subfields of sociology should invest this new data source in the near future. However, the social sciences still have not very much considered these new practices and lack methodological tools, databases and concepts to do so. Our project aims at producing such tools, data and concepts in a very reflexive way that will constitute the first step of a broader comparative research and propose solutions to the methodological and ethical problems that such a comparative agenda will raise.