Global Financialization: Class and Precarity

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Seminar 31 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Norbert EBERT, Macquarie University, Australia
The purpose of this paper is to look at the financialisation of capitalist economies not only as the main dynamic behind the emergence of a global financial class, but also as a simultaneously destabilising factor for social structures on a global scale resulting in precarity. Rather than matching the emergence of ‘global financial class’ with the formation of another class, namely the precariat, I argue that the consequences of a capital accumulation built on more volatile financial processes results in global structures of inequality and precarity defining what I call ‘precarious work societies’. The globalisation of financial markets potentially intensifies the locally destabilising effects of the shift of capital accumulation towards the global financial sector. It is in particular the combination of globalisation and financialisation that might result in a ‘global financial class’ on the one hand, and locally quite different precarious social structures on the other, that do not automatically lead to the emergence of a precarious class. Global financial markets become less dependent on social and political conditions in particular places, while local employment conditions become more competitive and as a consequence more precarious. Global financialisation intensifies local precarities and as two sides of the same coin find their expression in various tensions between, for example, increased job opportunities in global finance as job security in the real local economy declines; the erosion of localised mass solidarities and the emergence of a global financial class; more vulnerable and competitive local employment conditions and global employers who take advantage of this vulnerability. These tensions can be described as tension between economic differentiation and social integration. My goal is to develop the concept of a ‘precarious work society’ in order to capture those processes more specifically.