Master of Arts (MA)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
Number of Pages
The following exploratory project used a qualitative mixed method approach by means of a preliminary blog analysis of thirty-seven blogs and twenty-five semi-structured interviews for data collection on individuals known as digital nomads. The theoretical foundations of this study are centered on practice theory, structuration theory, as well as discussions surrounding cultural identity. The project’s aim is to increase our understanding of the digital nomad phenomenon by asking four research questions: Who are the digital nomads? How is digital nomadism practiced? Why choose to live on the move? Is digital nomadism sustainable? The discussion includes how the digital nomad identity is transformed and practiced and how it differs from its popularized media stereotype, how and why individuals are choosing to live and work location independently, and includes a partial determination if this choice is shifting into a new sustainable way of life.
The project revealed a relationship between individualism, mobility, and loneliness. The data suggests that participants are constantly searching for a sense of belonging, for a community to generate social solidarity. Unfortunately, digital communities alone do not appear sufficient in this task, and constant movement presents a barrier to more meaningful relationships. This results in a need for deeper non-computer-mediated human interaction, and eventually the decision to become semi-nomadic. Additionally, three self-identification categories were used by participants, each with distinguishable meanings, tensions, and uses: location independent, digital nomad, and global citizen. The key element that bonds this group together is the freedom ideology; an ideological sense of occupational and geographical autonomy gained by eschewing their previous sociocultural constraints in favor of others which allow for more individualized control. This desire to govern one’s own path is also indicative of late-modernity which presents a climate of general mistrust towards institutional systems, both formal and informal. Findings suggest that the act of living in a fully neo-nomadic manner are indeed economically sustainable, however emotionally less so.
digital nomad; freedom; global citizen; identity; location independent; mobility
Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Smercina, Virginia Rachele, "Living on the Move: the Digital Nomad Mobile Phenomenon Identity and Practice" (2019). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 3846.
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