According to Shaun Busuttil, digital nomadism exists perpertually in the liminal space occupied by tourism. This existence is in opposition to a sedenterist lifestyle which emphasises the moral imperative to settle into one space rather than maintaining an untethered and mobile lifestyle.
Contemporary economic forces have made the nomadic lifestyle both possible and in some cases necessary to a degree. Even living domestically, it has become exceedingly difficult to maintain a life-long career within one's hometown. It is not uncommon to see moves between cities or even coastlines.
Digital Nomadism takes the domestic arbitage one step further by de-emphasizing the relavance of the nation state in an knowledge-worker based economy where ideas and capital move freely across international boundaries. Nomadism operates, according to Busuttil as a hedge in employment relations which ave become unstable as employers choose to hire and lay off with market whims or replace full-time employment with contract and gig operations. This necessitates a mindset that is comfortable with constantly shifting education requirements, employment opportunities and income sources. By opting to emphasis a nomadic over sedentary lifestyle, the nomad is able to achieve greater personal freedom in this employeer-employee relationship.
Since the Digital Nomad is unbound by location, they opt frequently for the global south where they can use geo-arbitage to increase their purchasing power. The nomad is paid in northern currencies (the dollar or the euro), but live and expense in southern currencies. This gives them a short-term advantage, but at the expense of loosing domestic netowrking and career advancement opportunitiies. This could, in the long term, create a disavantage for the nomad, locking them into the global-south economy.2
Questions to Explore
- Climate change may necessitate a change in lifestyles, a shift from more sedentary to nomadic forms or vis-versa. What are the ethical implications for digital nomadism? Does it contribute to climate change, or is it a neccessary hedge in increasingly unstable times?
- The pandemic has certainly impacted the digital nomad's lifestyle. Lockdowns and global travel restricts have left some stranded in foreign nations (for better or worse) or forced digital nomads to return home. In light of this, what possiblities exist for digital nomadism?
- The digital nomad often carries the implicit notion that it is a global nomad, what about domestic nomads? Dirt baggers living in vans and RVs across the west? Or those who move frequently within the country throughout a career. How has this changed in the United States? Are we shifting away from sedentary lifestyles? Has there been periods of greater or lesser nomadism in American culture?
- Busuttil, Shaun. Digital nomads challenge the very concept of tourism. Shaun Busuttil, Travel Writer and Photographer. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
- Busuttil, Shaun. Mobility, Precarity and Risk: A Beckian Analysis of Digital Nomadism. Shaun Busuttil, Travel Writer and Photographer. Retrieved 2021-10-05.