The Precariat

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The Precariat suffers precarity meaning lack of job security, inability to plan ahead financially or materially due to either under-employment or irregular and sporadic work schedule. Someone who lives a precarious existence and so suffers all the stresses and strains that go along with having an uncertain future.

The quantity of temporary jobs has been on the rise over the last 2 decades. Employers have found it very cost effective to employ people for their immediate requirements then lay them off when work rates drop. There are so many people unemployed that competition remains high for any jobs available regardless of the lack of job security. This results in wage levels being kept low and conditions at work being ripe for management manipulation. By management manipulation I mean things like forced overtime being a norm (resulting in tax credits being overpaid and then having to be paid back in the following year, adding to hardships) along with all the other down sides of over-working for example; lack of down time, leisure time or family time, illness and depression.

Also employers can enforce ever increasing speed requirements and work rates and quotas, resulting in employers competing to be the fastest packer or sell the most products and then incurring repetitive strain injuries and other stress related injuries and health problems that arise from feeling that today could be your last. These pressures result in tactics that Impact also on unsuspecting or vulnerable customers also, this is because of pressuring sales pitches, intimidation and false information and then the resulting unnecessary even dangerous unsuitable purchases made either under duress or through trusting the sales pitch.

Guy Standing calls the Precariat “The New Dangerous Class” in his book published in 2011. Here he notes that the Precariat has nothing and more importantly nothing to lose and so this makes them dangerous. I see the precariat as dangerous in two ways; firstly one type of Precariat is highly educated and globally aware and they have time on their hands an axe to wield and nothing to lose by wielding it. The second type of precariat may not mind turning to criminal behaviour as a means to boost incomes or to seek out retributions on those whom they deem to be responsible for their precariousness. Both are dangerous to someone and both feel it is their right or even duty to fight for their cause.

This is no way for a human to live in the 21st century, no-one would choose this precarious lifestyle; well certainly not in a mist of such high unemployment. There are winners though other than the employers and these are the world wide community for many a protester and or activist may have not chosen that path had they found a comfortable job and lifestyle to boot. Many human, environmental and animal rights are being ensured because of the Precariat and the empowerment that comes with having nothing to lose.

ZOE LAKER

Standing, G. (2011) “THE PRECARIAT: The New Dangerous Class” (1st Edition) London: Bloombury

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One thought on “The Precariat

  1. Couldn’t agree more. The youth are facing more issues and unstable future more than the previous generations. However, as a positive response, social entrepreneurship is leading its way as an informal economy in order to tackle social issues that the governments has ignored.
    Suzan Shedid, Dubai Campus

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