Patterns of Self-Employment Among Young People. the Case of the Emilia-Romagna Region in Italy

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Stella VOLTURO, University of Bologna, Italy
Alessandro MARTELLI, University of Bologna, Italy
Paolo ZURLA, University of Bologna, Italy
The paper aims to present the main findings of an empirical research concerning life and work conditions of a sample of young self-employed in Emilia-Romagna region, in Northern Italy.

By starting from the goal to understand life and work conditions of young self-employed, three main questions have been addressed:

  • Under which social, economic and family conditions young people decide to follow the pattern of a self-employed career?
  • Which are the subjective meanings, motivations and goals which oriented young people towards this working pattern?
  • Which are the main social needs emerging from young self-employed?

In order to answer these questions, after providing a brief statistical review of the phenomenon, we opted for a qualitative approach, which better fits the goal to reach the subjective dimension of interviewers. More in detail, 50 biographical interviews involving young self-employed have been carried out. They come from different sectors and working conditions, such as those belonging to the emerging forms of work (web strategists, digital communicators, start uppers) and the more traditional ones (translators, artisans).

The results of the research show that the so called ‘self-employment world’ is far from being a homogeneous scenario. Although among the interviewers it is certainly possible to find common aspects, in terms of positive and challenging factors linked to their working life, it is also remarkable the presence of differentiated conditions which could be understood in the light of wider social and economic changes occurred in our contemporary societies, such as the process of individualization and the fragmentation of working conditions.

Finally, thanks to the analysis of the empirical data, we can distinguish new social needs emerging from life and working conditions of young self-employed. These needs are challenging the current welfare system which seems to act by pursuing a fragmented approach which produces social insecurities and new vulnerabilities.