The Precariat - The New Dangerous Class

  • Professor Guy Standing, SOAS, University of London
  • 28 February 2013, 5.15-7.15, P/L/002
  • Chair: Lisa Camps, SPS Student

Interview with Professor Guy Standing

The full interview is also available on YouTube

Seminar presentation recording

Seminar synopsis

Many millions of people, including many across Europe, are entering a global precariat, part of a class structure shaped by globalisation. This presentation, drawing on a recent book[1], poses five questions. What is the precariat? Why care about it? Why is it growing? Who is most likely to be in it? And where is it leading us?

The brief answer to the first question is that it consists of millions of people in social and economic insecurity, without occupational identities, drifting in and out of jobs, constantly worried about their incomes, housing and much else. It particularly affects youth, many realising that their certificates and degrees are little more than lottery tickets, leading many into status frustration. They and many others are being affected by a process of precariatisation, a slow habituation to a life of unstable labour, quite unlike the old proletariat.

Will the precariat’s growth lead towards an authoritarian politics of inferno, with neo-fascist overtones? Or will a progressive agenda emerge in the squares and cities of protest, responding to Enlightenment values and the aspirations of the educated younger generation being drawn into the precariat?

The presentation will examine the labour market dynamics that underpin the growth of the precariat and outline the nucleus of a new ‘politics of paradise’ taking shape outside the political mainstream across Europe and elsewhere.

[1] Standing, G. (2011). The Precariat - The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury. Also published in Italian as Precari - La Nuova Classe Esplosivo. Rome: Il Mulino.

Professor Guy Standing

Guy Standing is Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and previously Professor of Economic Security at the University of Bath. Before that, he held various senior positions in the ILO, including Director of the Socio-Economic Security Programme. He has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Cambridge. He has done research on labour market policies, unemployment, labour market flexibility, structural adjustment and social protection and advised many governments and international bodies. Recent books include: The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (Bloomsbury, 2011); Social Income and Insecurity: A Study in Gujarat (Routledge, 2010); Work after Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship (Elgar, 2009). In 2004, he coordinated the ILO’s global report, Economic Security for a Better World. In the mid-1990s, he was director of research for President Mandela’s Labour Market Commission. He is a founder and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an international NGO. He is currently involved in designing and evaluating unconditional cash transfer pilot schemes in India.