Are the “Grey Zones” of Employment Reconfiguring the Relation of "False Employees" to Their Occupation?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Flora BAJARD, LEST (Institute of Labour Economics and Industrial Sociology) - France, France
This proposal focuses on a particular form of "grey zone" of employment: collective working spaces and organizations through which self-employed persons get paid through wages, whether these organizations are cooperative - cooperative, mutual - or not – “umbrella companies” or portage wage companies. These workers are therefore somehow "false wage-earners", because they consider themselves as self-employed, and yet, they receive a pay slip; in other words, they are "autonomous employees" (Grégoire et al.). So, once inscribed in these organizations, productive activity might be perceived differently, as well as the categories associated with it: self-employed /wage earner, boss /employee, capital/labor, etc. Based on a first phase of investigation among people from a variety of occupations but grouped together in these organizations, this communication sheds light on the mental categories that workers use to situate themselves in social space: do they still consider themselves as freelance workers, and what relation do they have to such visions (and divisions) of the world? To what extent are these categories used in a logic of self-assignment, reject/foil, or claim? In connection with the topic of the session, an attempt will be made to understand the impact of these evolutions on occupational groups: how do the individual appropriations of these categories consolidate the occupations or, on the contrary, divide them (logics of segmentation and unity)? Do they transform the social image of occupations, i.e., the way in which workers are subjectively connected with it? This proposal is part of the first phase of an inquiry into work collective spaces in France and Belgium (Cooperative d'Activité et d'Emploi, Scop-Cooperative society, portage wage societies, mutual work companies).