Knowledge Workers' Subjectivities. Precarisation and Transitions of Young Highly Qualified

Monday, July 14, 2014: 10:54 AM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Annalisa MURGIA , Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
Emiliana ARMANO , State University of Milan, Italy, Milano, Italy
Over the past decades, many EU member States have registered a large raise in the use of temporary employment. Young people are far more likely than other groups to be employed in precarious jobs, independently from their education and skills. In the age of the global economic-financial crisis, the attack to the conditions of knowledge workers goes on, according to the different lines of the neoliberistic logics, that juxtapose to the current precarisation processes phenomena like under-payment and misalignment between subjects’ education and their working activities (Eurofund, 2011; Standing, 2011; Samek, Semenza, 2012).

Which relation does it hold between educational levels and possibility of effectively deploying the acquired competences and skills? How do knowledge workers represent and face their precarious conditions?

Our reflections are based on results obtained in two recent researches conducted in Italy (Armano, 2010; Murgia et al. 2012) – in the areas of Bologna, Milano, Torino and Trento – during which narratives of about 70 subjects, aged between 25 and 45, have been collected, with reference to the transitions between education and employment. All interviewees were holding high degrees of education (bachelor, master or PhD) and at the time of the interview were employed with autonomous or dependent temporary contracts.

The research inquires on the one hand the risks of depauperation of knowledge and deskilling of highly educated young workers; on the other hand, the strong lack of adequate forms of representation and of policies aimed at facing the specific precariousness of knowledge workers.

In the present article we discuss the precarious and invisible face of the condition of knowledge workers, that collides with the official one, that superficially considers them as “independent and professionals”, though they are experiencing the effects of the further precarisation brought about by the crisis, without a union or political representation.