EASA2016: Anthropological legacies and human futures

(P104)
Precarisation in welfare economies
Location U6-24
Date and Start Time 22 July, 2016 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Dan Hirslund (University of Copenhagen) email
  • Julie Rahbæk Møller (Metropolitan University College) email

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Discussant Roberta Zavoretti

Short Abstract

This panel reflects on the bureaucratized and individualized forms that precarisation of labor takes in European welfarist states

Long Abstract

Increasing exploitation of labour in northern welfare economies has resulted in deepening of bureaucratic 'flexicurity' regimes and thereby obscured casualization processes. Further, the neoliberal revolution in post-Fordist economies has displaced earlier oppositions between capital and labour with the shifting of labour discipline onto individuals. Today, we are not so much facing the brutal weight of corporate power but the insecure spaces present in under- or overemployment and by intensified competition that is horizontal and lateral, internal and external. Taking recent debates on precarisation in the affluent parts of Europe as its starting point (Standing 2005), this panel seeks to develop a comparative rather than a generalized perspective on diverse forms of precarisation. Unlike the narrower labour market perspective presented by Guy Standing, we wish to expand the problematic of precarisation to (1) new forms of externalization by which entire population groups become excluded from the standard labour market contract model of citizenship; (2) restructurings of labour discipline along less evident material and affective registers. We invite contributions that analyse the changed conjunctures of life in the shadows of transformed national economies where the contribution of labour to the pool of national wealth has been gradually diminishing. How can the nature of productive social labour be rethought in a context where our very desires for work are bound up with the reproduction of capital (Lordon 2014) and through which labour is being punished and marginalized? How can anthropological knowledge probe the specific and systematic character of life under late liberalism?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Precarious conditions in the Danish welfare state: the ‘hypermarginality’ of refugees with disability

Author: Thomas Hughes (University of Copenhagen)  email

Short Abstract

This paper attempts to shed light on the impact of neoliberal shifts in affluent European welfare states on so-called “double minority” citizens. It presents an examination of how specific forms of social and economic marginality experienced - termed here as ‘hypermarginality’- can be contextualized in global climates of precarisation.

Long Abstract

Based on work from an ongoing anthropological research project on people with non-western backgrounds and physical disabilities in Denmark, this paper introduces a concept – hypermarginality - that aims to address the particular socio-economic conditions and corresponding experiential state of individuals and families facing multiple dimensions of social exclusion, outsiders among outsiders in a global economy. Rather than solely a case of ‘intersectionality’ (Crenshaw 1989) or a geographically and historically specific form of urban ‘advanced marginality’ (Wacquant 1996), I argue for a distinct theoretical lens, inspired by Judith Butler’s recent reflections on ‘precarity’, which can address the multiple, exponential and compounding (Spencer 2014) nature of the exclusion experienced in this social position. Phenomenological approaches developed in medical anthropology are employed to allow a vantage point through these certain subjectivities to larger structures of marginalization. To illustrate the common social and economic dilemmas from which this concept emerged, one such subjectivity is explored in the form of an ethnographic case. Here we see the story of Abuukar, a Somali wheelchair user, who feeling shut out of the Danish labor market and society at large, seeks to find his “own business”, his “own way of living this Danish government”. This story is then interpreted “outward” (Good et. al. 2001) to a wider global economic and political frame. In this analytical step, we see how the conditions of Abuukar’s as well as many other of my informants’ ‘hypermarginality’ are shaped and formed by the overarching political changes of late liberalism.

Care farming in Switzerland: challenges of an emerging field

Authors: Michèle Amacker (University of Bern)  email
Isabel Häberli (University of Bern)  email
Sebastian Funke (University of Bern)  email
Andrea Graf (University of Bern)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores care farming in Switzerland, an interface of two fields in crisis: care and agriculture. Applying a transdisciplinary approach, we focus on challenges and opportunities for all persons involved in these emerging paid care services.

Long Abstract

The term care farming refers to paid family integrated care for children, juveniles and adults on farms, for educative or therapeutic reasons or due to other care dependencies. Care farming is the interface of two fields in crisis. The care crisis on the one hand, is manifested in state austerity measures, a growing demand for care work labourer, unaffordable costs and problems of reconciling work and family life. On the other hand, national and global crisis in agriculture cause growing economic and social pressure on Swiss family farms.

Care farming is an emerging field. To offer paid care services is one strategy of farmers to diversify and secure their livelihood. But it can be very inconstant, incriminatory and payment is low. However, care farming is also a possibility for the state to outsource care services to more economic suppliers. Numerous questions arise on this reorganization of paid care work, as for example on the challenges and opportunities for the persons involved; on responsibilities; on the workload of farmers; on the quality of care services; and on new conditions of precariousness of the farming families as well as their clients/guests.

In this paper we provide new insights on these questions. We draw on preliminary results of an ongoing transdisciplinary study, carried out in strong collaboration with non-academic stakeholders. To generate comprehensive data, explorative and participative methods were chosen.

The changing tectonics of precarisation and citizenship in Poland

Author: Hana Cervinkova (University of Lower Silesia)  email

Short Abstract

This paper addresses precarity in the context of a specific citizenship regime developed in the historical nexus of a transition between state socialism and neoliberalism, focusing on the changing dimensions of civil, political and social elements of citizenship.

Long Abstract

This paper focuses on exploring the connections between precarisation and citizenship in the context of the post-transition neoliberal economy of Poland. With one of the lowest employment rates, job quality and low labor market security, Poland, a socialist country until 1989, is now among the leaders in precarious employment in Europe, with Polish youth disproportionately affected (over 55 percent working on temporary contracts). Recently, criticism of precarity was taken up by the nationalist political parties, making precarity an important public idiom through which the interplay of predatory neoliberalism and national neo-conservatism can be viewed. I am interested in addressing precarity in the context of the specific citizenship regime developed in the historical nexus of a transition between state socialism and neoliberalism, focusing on the changing dimensions of civil, political and social elements of citizenship.

Common needs and social agency encounters; moral economias within national and local communities in Portugal

Author: Fernanda Oliveira (CRIA-IUL)  email

Short Abstract

This paper will explore new arrangements of exchange and social solidarity. Ethnographic analysis of local alternative food and basic needs allows us to rethink notions of sustainability, justice, labour and welfare, central issues which contribute to a reflection on social change.

Long Abstract

In Portugal, owing to the current social and economical crises, labour is in a deep decline since 2008. Employment systems have undergone changes mainly with respect to contracting and the redefinition of legislative framework of labour, at the same time of the weakening of institutional support models. This crisis of modern hiring (Santos, 1989) is aligned with neoliberal rules of economic growth based on costs-savings. The decline of wage labour gives way to a new worker which must learn how to live under the aegis of weak bonds (Senett, 2001), should be autonomous and embodied the responsibility of his own work possibilities. In Portugal, current productive system tends to selectively dispose of labour according to economic needs of employer. Due this conjecture of crisis this often means a constant movement of labour mainly focused in headcount reduction. This changes may be framed by analytic processes like "Accumulation by dispossession" (Harvey, 2004), such are, among others, informalisation and flexibilization of work and contracting, which generate loss of social rights and the "jobbers" (Sá, 2010) entitlements. New forms of communal cooperation are an attempt to reduce economic, social and personal vulnerabilities, everyday life difficulties, directly connected with labour crisis. In this way, Innovative practices have been emerging aligned with Social Economies (Laville, 2010; Singer, 2002) managing a wide range of goods and encouraging progressive forms of trade and solidarity. These new proximity markets (Laville, 2010) counteract profit requirements, accumulation and competitiveness of capitalist market, and provide new discursive matrices (Appadurai, 1996).

The precariousness of the employable: highly skilled professionals in contemporary Romania

Author: Anca Simionca (Babes-Bolyai University)  email

Short Abstract

I discuss the consequences of the radical switch towards an individual-centered understanding of work and employment. Using the case of highly skilled workers in Romania, I show how even for the most privileged categories of workers, the framework of employability results in precarious livelihoods.

Long Abstract

The workforce around the world has been subjected to undeniable crises in the last years, visible in the high levels of unemployment and in the protests that have been mushrooming globally. This paper is intended as a contribution to the recent discussions about the consequences of the radical switch towards an individual-centered understanding of work and employment. I will use the case of highly skilled workers in a middle scale city in Romania, Cluj, in order to empirically describe the types of situations, choices and understandings that a labor market operating under the wider umbrella of employability result in. I will show that even for the most privileged categories of workers, those who manage to secure a relatively decent living for themselves, the framework of employability results in precarious situations. I empirically document the ways in which people with a relatively good livelihood are not in the position to make claims of security to anyone than themselves or their networks of support, because both the employers, the state and other regulatory political entities are absolved from this responsibility, making them vulnerable on the one hand to the particular situation of the employers, and, on the other hand, to the degree to which the locality in which they live (or the localities to which they can move) are successful in attracting and keeping as a fix the global fluxes of capital. Fluxes which are free to move, and to whose freedom national and global regulations contribute increasingly.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.