Precarious Beginnings: How Working Class Kids Still Get Working Class Jobs?

Monday, 16 July 2018: 11:18
Oral Presentation
Alan FRANCE, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Phillip MIZEN, Aston University, United Kingdom
Evidence from many developed economies shows that transitions from education to employment are becoming longer, more difficult and more precarious (Shildrick et al. 2013; Standing 2011), and the need to undertake multiple and diverse labour market activities seems increasingly characteristic of initial entry into the labour market (Roberts 2012; Bradley and Devadason 2008). Spells of involuntary unpaid, casual, short-term, part-time and fixed-term working now seem more prevalent amongst both lower and higher qualified young workers. These phenomena are not especially new (Mizen 2004) and a substantial amount of theoretical analysis and research has been undertaken on irregular, casual and flexible forms of payment employment, but the growing significance of precarious employment – whether unpaid, part-time or temporary working – has been scarcely investigated in the transition from education to employment. This neglect is particularly significant given that their incidence appears to be increasing (Ainley and Allen 2010). In this paper we explore why, how and where young workers engage in these practices and what the costs and benefits of these processes are. We then argue by drawing on the work of Bourdieu that while there has been significant changes in young people’s trajectories into work, education and training, social class still remains significant in reproducing young people’s pathways towards adulthood. While precarious work is impacting on both working and the middle class young people those with the power, resources and networks are able to build resilience and avoid the worst ravages of the new political economy of work. In this context class still matters.