Professions and the Grey Zone of Employment: A Blurring Frontier Between Subordination and Independency. a Special Focus on Europe and Latin America
The notion of “employment grey zones” is widely used in developing countries and informal economies. It is equally present in developed countries and reflects the changing nature of employment relationship boundaries (Supiot, 2000). It highlights the difficulties in identifying the employer’s power in productive systems characterised by subcontracting firms or interdependent networks or, more recently, by “uberised” working conditions.
We intend to reflect on the meaning of the grey zone in relation to the changes in wage-earning relation and labour contracts. Theoretically, the “employment grey zone” stresses power or “micro-political” process (Almond, Ferner), underpinning the institutionalisation of new labour and employment regulations.
The traditional approach of professions used to highlight a certain type of regulated professions (architects, practitioners, lawyers, etc.) (Susskind, Susskind, 2015), globalisation is compelling researchers to take into account the emergence of new forms of labour and employment in the ‘Circular and Collaborative Economy”.
Emerging professions reflect transformations in labour and employment relations. A three-part typology is useful to interpretate professions. On the one hand, due to globalisation some professions become disqualified and low-payed –I call them declining professions-; on the other the intermediary occupations can be seen as a lock chamber for young people yearning for a better and steady activity out of an internship period, for instance. They try to withdraw from precariousness. Finally, ascending professions can be considered as marked by the individuals wishes or utopia.