Precarious work and precarious workers: Towards an improved conceptualisation

Campbell, Iain & Price, Robin (2016) Precarious work and precarious workers: Towards an improved conceptualisation. The Economic and Labour Relations Review, 27(3), pp. 314-332.

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Abstract

Discussion of the implications of precarious work for individual workers remains hesitant and often confused. A clear conceptualisation would separate out five analytical levels: precariousness in employment, precarious work, precarious workers individually and as an emerging class, and precarity as a general condition of social life. To illustrate the need to avoid slippage between the concepts of precarious work and precarious workers, we present one ‘theory-relevant’ example – full-time secondary school students in Australia who hold part-time jobs in the retail sector. Their part-time jobs are indeed precarious but the negative effects on the student-workers are modest, both because participation in precarious work is limited (moderate weekly hours and intermittent work within the framework of a brief stage of the life course) and because many (though not all) of the associated risks are cushioned by structural forces such as access to alternative income sources and career paths. At the same time, however, a longitudinal perspective reveals that the same group of student-workers faces major risks in the future, as a result of increasingly insecure labour markets. Reflections on this example help to identify conceptual tools that can be applied to a wide range of other examples of precarious work.

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ID Code: 96052
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Employment Conditions, Job Quality, Labour Market Insecurity, Life Course, Precarious Work, Retail, Vulnerable Workers, Young Workers
DOI: 10.1177/1035304616652074
ISSN: 1035-3046
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Industrial Relations (150306)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2016 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 13 Jun 2016 23:12
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 01:14

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