Unity in Diversity? New Working Class Under Regime of Precariousness

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Justyna ZIELINSKA, Poland
The aim of this paper is to present outcomes of five qualitative research conducted among the most unprivileged workers in two post-industrial cities in Poland and employees working on the peripheral labour market (Harvey 1991) in Warsaw (2013-2015). These workers are: long term unemployed who take part in low-paid trainings, internships (arranged by public institutions) and who are forced to take up odd jobs and jobs on the black market; next, seasonal workers and women that are full time mothers and housewives (23 individual in-depth interviews and 2 focus group interviews). Finally, employees who work in low-paid branches in public sector and private sector (10 individual in-depth interviews with cleaners, checkers, bodyguards and 20 individual in-depth interviews with people working in call-center). Aforementioned workers seem to be characteristic for present capitalism (mass unemployment and expansion of service sector).

Although they seem to belong to different classes (post-industrial working class, middle class working in service sector), they are in different age and live in different conditions, most of them experience uncertainty and lack of sense of security regarding their position and situation on the labour market. Therefore, they can be named precariat (Standing 2011). However the term precariat is built on opposition to the concept of proletariat. Author of this paper regards aforementioned workers as contemporary working class who has undergone transformation (i.e. they usually work in service sector). The main aim of the paper is to present working conditions and analyse modes of controlling, managing and disciplining new working class by public institutions (Public Employment Services and social assistance) and employers (flexible contracts, low salaries etc.). On the other hand, I am going to present how new working class perceive its situation on the present labour market and analyse their modes of resistance (Foucault 1982) – individual and collective.