Perhaps I don’t listen to the news enough, or maybe I don’t read the right media reports, but until the last few days I had not come across the phrase ‘gig economy’. I grasped what it meant but thought it was an acronym… in case you haven’t come across it, here is a definition:
“a labour market characterised by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs… “working in the gig economy means constantly being subjected to last-minute scheduling”
So, as I go to plenty of music gigs, I investigated the derivation of the word… and the derivation was from ‘gig’ as in a music gig, it wasn’t an acronym at all. ‘Gig economy’ was first used about eight years ago, according to the Financial Times, ‘at the height of the financial crisis in early 2009, when the unemployed made a living by gigging, or working several part-time jobs, wherever they could.‘
OK, that’s great! I understand complexity… but what about the word ‘gig’ itself, what is its etymology? I first came across it reading historical novels when people were always leaping into or springing out of gigs – a sort of carriage. I’ve just checked, and it is ‘a light, two-wheeled carriage, usually drawn by one horse’. I then have also come across it meaning a type of rowing boat, and round here it is a really popular sport – gig racing!
Of course there is the way in which I have most often used the word, as in a musical performance, which has also become to meet going out for a meet-up/adventure/trip/visit etc. This meaning of gig , may have come from a German word, or more probably came from jazz musicians at the beginning of the twentieth century. There is also a whirligig which is a spinning thing, a gig which is a harpoon, a gig which was a betting game, and a gig who was a ‘flighty girl’ two hundred years ago – was that where giggling came from? I have no idea!
I wasn’t at this gig, but I have been to many Kevin Montgomery gigs… happy memories!