Pushed and pulled to the Internet: Self employment in the spiritual marketplace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drawing from participant observation and in-depth interviews, this article illustrates how esoteric practitioners (mainly Tarot card readers) come to see themselves as “self-employed” or entrepreneurs and take up the labor of brand building. These individuals study and use the cards not only as part of a personal “quest” for meaning or experience but also as an attempt to “make a living” from their work. This labor is personal and subjective as well as increasingly digital in nature, occurring through blogs, websites, and other media. Despite the relative ease of Web 2.0 technologies, online brand building poses serious challenges for Tarot readers. In contrast to websites depicting “a best life,” the process of building a personal brand can be fraught with hesitation, speculation, and failure as well as confounded by issues of access to technology. This tension makes many Tarot readers “reluctant entrepreneurs” who feel that they have no choice but to engage with the Internet.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-224
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Issue number2
Early online date16 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • self-employment
  • social media
  • tarot
  • branding


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