Precarious Lives and New Solidarities: Normalisation and Resistance Against Precarity in the Biographies of Young Workers in Poland and Germany

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 16:00
Oral Presentation
Adam MROZOWICKI, University of Wroclaw, Poland
Vera TRAPPMANN, Leeds University Business School, United Kingdom
Jan CZARZASTY, Warsaw School of Economics, Poland
Juliusz GARDAWSKI, Warsaw School of Economics, Poland
Jule-Marie LORENZEN, Freie Universit├Ąt Berlin, Germany
This paper aims at understanding the conditions and mechanisms of the mobilisation and demobilisation against the precarity in the contexts of two distinct political-economic regimes in Poland and Germany, the former representing a semi-peripheral embedded neoliberal economy and the latter the coordinated economy type. Despite political-economic differences, in both countries young people tend to be systemically disadvantaged in terms of greater risk of poverty, temporary employment and unemployment than general population. Even though research noted relatively high level of satisfaction and limited involvement in protests of the Polish and German youth, we can also observe emergent forms of political and labour mobilisation in both contexts. This mobilisation includes new forms of self-organisation (e.g. academic, NGO and restaurant workers) but also non-progressive forms like protest voting. The paper will address this paradox by referring to the results of the research on young (18-30) precarious workers within the NCN-DFG funded PREWORK project. The qualitative module contains 120 biographical narrative interviews collected in economically diversified urban contexts in East and West Germany and Poland. The quantitative module is based on the representative CATI survey of young people in both countries (N=1000). The paper will firstly reconstruct the main traits of economic consciousness of young Poles and Germans pointing, inter alia, to the persistent support for neo-corporatism in Germany and rebirth of the support for domestic capitalism in Poland. Next, the comparative typology of life strategies will be presented linked with the diversified forms of mobilisation and demobilisation. It is concluded that inconsistences and contradictions both at the level of economic consciousness and life strategies of workers present some space for resistance against the precarity. The latter is more present in Poland than in Germany in which the tendency of reproduction and normalisation of social order seems to prevail despite precarisation.