Perception of Precarious Work By Households Living in Precarious Prosperity. Evidence from Qualitative Research in Urban Romania and Switzerland

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 12 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ana Maria PREOTEASA, Research Institute for Quality of Life, Romania
Rebekka SIEBER, University of Neuchâtel, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Monica BUDOWSKI, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Christian SUTER, Department of Sociology, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
In modern societies, work is probably the most important underpinning of both physical survival and social identity. If the employment situation becomes precarious, it has important consequences at the macroeconomic, community, familial and individual levels. Our presentation introduces findings from a qualitative study and is designed to portray how households living in precarious prosperity, i.e. in constrained and volatile financial situations, not poor and not in secure prosperity, perceive their situation in Romania and Switzerland. The approach analyses low quality jobs and precarious work as a strategy to maintain or improve the household situation or to avoid slipping into poverty. Precarious employment patterns vary in many aspects between the two countries yet they are similar in terms of uncertainty and instability. In the Romanian sample a part of people have standard employment contracts with variable or very low salaries (minimum income) or non standard contracts, in the Switzerland sample, persons living in precarious financial situations are self-employed and have standard and non-standard working agreements with constant or variable payment. In both countries, the working situation is contingent on structural opportunities, yet it also depends on the individual’s resources, qualifications and choices in the past. For example, in Switzerland, choosing certain professions, e.g., an artistic profession and knowing that job opportunities are rare and with non-standard can lead to a precarious financial situation. In Romania older generations chose their profession before 1990. The qualifications for the labour market then are no longer in demand today. At the same time, family constraints (young children or a dependent person in the household to care for) restrain work possibilities and lead to accepting flexible jobs and sometimes to financial insecurity.