Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin
Proprietary Freedoms in an IT Office
This chapter discusses the strategies Indian programmers use to be successful in short-term work contracts, including framing the work as a necessary, temporary step on the way to elite status and thinking of programming skills as a kind of wealth they control. They develop two sets of complementary practices: first, they criticize existing migration law that treats them as second-class citizens even while the code they write is so highly valued. Second, they try to extend their work projects beyond the length of their visas. This second practice makes a claim for a proprietary freedom that puts forth a temporary ownership over work against the general ethic of workplace sharing and its corollary: mobile and replaceable labor. This idea of freedom-in-ownership to upend the usual way freedom in software is understood, highlighting that it is often the company and not its employees that is invested in the free exchange of information.