Non-Standard Professional Workers and the Demand of Representation: Do Knowledge Workers Need Collective Organizations?
The aim of the paper, based on a qualitative survey involving 75 young professionals living in Milan (Italy) and 16 organizations, is to understand whether high-skilled non-standard professional workers express a specific demand for representation, and what kind of answer traditional and innovative organizations are likely to offer.
Our leading hypothesis is that, as a consequence of a general disappointment towards politics and unionism and of the change of workers’ social identity, young professionals do not refer to unions but pursue individual strategies to solve their conflicts within the labour market. Non-standard workers constantly refer to rhetoric on personal autonomy and freedom against the ‘boring standard long life full time job’ (not existing any longer in the real life).
Our results in Milan, the Italian metropolis which usually anticipate national changes in the labour market, shows a mismatch between job conditions of these workers that have strongly worsened in the last decades, and the awareness that these conditions are shared by a large part of non standardworkers, and their (in)capacity of collective representation and action. The lack of sharing a common place of work is one of the elements to understand this mismatch. Given this scenario, the possibility for unions and other associations to organize these workers is very unlikely.