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Non-standard employment and subjective insecurity: how can we capture job precarity using survey data?

Precarious Work

ISBN: 978-1-78743-288-8, eISBN: 978-1-78743-287-1

Publication date: 19 December 2017


Currently, a much-debated issue concerns the social and political significance of the emergence of the precariat, a social class consisting of people for whom uncertainty and unpredictability of life circumstances and employment relations make it impossible to plan for the future, forcing them to live on a day-to-day basis (Standing, 2011). However, it remains unclear how the precariat may be defined and operationalized. On the one hand, treating non-standard employment arrangements (fixed-term contracts, temporary agency work, etc.) as a basis for identifying precarious jobs is likely to be misleading, as research has shown non-standard employment to be heterogeneous with respect to working conditions and chances for achieving stabilization. On the other hand, subjective perceptions of security may also be misleading as indicators of precarity, as they are compounded by psychological coping mechanisms and perceptions of reference group status. This analysis attempts to disentangle the complex relationships between non-standard employment and perceived insecurity in order to provide grounds for a more adequate conceptualization and measurement of job precarity. Specifically, I assess the extent to which the relationship between worker contractual status and perceived job, labor market, and employment insecurity is conditional on various characteristics of workers, their jobs, and their households, taking into account the country-level economic and institutional context. The analysis is based on multi-level regression models using data from the 2010 European Working Conditions Survey.



Kiersztyn, A. (2017), "Non-standard employment and subjective insecurity: how can we capture job precarity using survey data?", Kalleberg, A.L. and Vallas, S.P. (Ed.) Precarious Work (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 31), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 91-122.



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