The Shut-In Economy


This is a journalistic piece about the “Shut-In Economy” of downtown San Francisco, where busy upper-middle class workers outsource activities of daily living to apps and service-based subscriptions that do their laundry, deliver their food, and give them the ability to never leave their apartments.

Tech companies have long realized that if you hook up your employees with everything on site, they’ll work longer, more industrious hours. And if apps deliver that same to the home, corporations keep benefiting. Employees can work even more undistracted hours remotely or buy even more on-demand services (like that Netflix binge). The perfect cycle of productivity and consumption is created— and all without ever having to step outside.

The other half of the shut-in economy is comprised of the freelance and hourly employees doing the work itself. The author explores the effects of class and gender within the shut-in economy, suggesting that these delivery and service apps will continue highlighting the income gap between wealthy shut-ins and the workers that serve them.


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