The London School of Economics’ Professor Guy Standing wrote a book in which he explains a new social class: the precariat. I wrote about it it here in the context of the US. Here is Standing in a video:
“The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class” at MA Talks – Copenhagen 26th of March 2015
From Professor Standing’s article for the ASA:
“Since the 1980s, a global transformation has been unfolding in a manner analogous to the dis-embedded phase of Polanyi’s Great Transformation. The construction of a global market system is a painful process and has given rise to a global class structure that is quite unlike what prevailed for most of the twentieth century.
We can now talk of a plutocracy or oligarchy striding the world with their billions—global citizens without responsibilities to any nation state. They are the top 0.001 percent. Next is a larger elite that possesses millions. Below them on the income scale the old salaried class has splintered into two groups: the salariat, with strong employment security and an array of non-wage forms of remuneration, and a small but rapidly growing group of proficians. The latter, which includes small-scale businesses, consists of workers who are project-oriented, entrepreneurial, multiskilled, and likely to suffer from burn-out sooner or later.
Traditionally, the next income group down has been the proletariat, but old notions of a mass working class are outdated, since there is no common situation among workers. The earlier norm of this diminishing male-dominated class was a lifetime of stable full-time labor, in which a range of entitlements called “labor rights” was built up alongside negotiated wages. As the proletariat shrinks, a new class is evolving—the precariat.
Who are the precariat?
One defining characteristic of the precariat is distinctive relations of production: so-called “flexible” labor contracts; temporary jobs; labor as casuals, part-timers, or intermittently for labor brokers or employment agencies. But conditions of unstable labor are part of the defi nition, not the full picture. More crucially, those in the precariat have no secure occupational identity; no occupational narrative they can give to their lives. And they find they have to do a lot of work-for-labor relative to labor, such as work preparation that does not count as work and that is not remunerated; they have to retrain constantly, network, apply for new jobs, and fi ll out forms of one sort or another. They are exploited outside the workplace as well as in it, and outside paid hours as well as in them. This is also the fi rst working class in history that, as a norm, is expected to have a level of education that is greater than the labor they are expected to perform or expect to obtain. This is the source of intense status frustration. Few in the precariat use their full educational qualifications in the jobs they have.”
Click here for the full pdf text of this article.