Managing the Risks of the Rise of Non-Standard Work Patterns: Tracking the Impact of Individualized Work Schedules on the Lives of Young People through Their 20s

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 15:50
Oral Presentation
Dan WOODMAN, University of Melbourne, Australia
Non-standard employment patterns are increasingly common across the world, particularly for young people. However, this type of employment is often considered to be transitional, and not to lead to insecurity due to the reduced responsibilities of youth. This presentation is based on ten years of mixed-methods longitudinal data (2007-2017) from an Australian study of youth transitions (560 participants). Drawing on data from repeated survey questionnaires and qualitative interviews, I investigate the impact of non-standard employment on other aspects of life for young people in their 20s. While there are clear patterns of transition towards full-time employment and ongoing contracts, there is no transition towards ‘standard hours’ of employment. Even by age 28-29, less than half of participants were working standard Monday-to-Friday daytime hours. The timetables and rhythms of the participant’s lives are individualized, primarily due to their work patterns, and do not become substantially more stable as the participants age. When the participants were in their early 20s they highlighted the impact of non-standard work on their social life, but in their late 20s their narratives shifted to the impact of individualized temporal schedules on their intimate relationships. The survey data shows that those working non-standard hours in their late 20s are much less likely to be married or in de-facto relationships and the interview data suggests this is linked to the challenge of building and maintaining intimate relationships. A paradox emerges from the analysis. Contemporary life is characterized by a temporal individualization that demands new efforts to routinize and synchronize lives with others. This work is gendered (more likely to be done by women) and classed, the resources to do so are unequally distributed.