The precariousnesses of young knowledge workers: a subject-oriented approach

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Emiliana Armano Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, via Conservatorio 7, 20122 Milano, Italy

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Annalisa Murgia Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, via Verdi 26, 38122 Trento, Italy

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Over the past decades, a number of EU member states have recorded large rises in the use of temporary employment. Young people are far more likely than other groups to be employed in precarious jobs, independently of their education and skills. In the midst of the global economic-financial crisis, in fact, the assault on the conditions of knowledge workers goes on, according to the different lines of the neoliberalistic logics, which juxtapose with the current precarisation processes like underpayment and misalignment between subjects’ educations and their working activities. How do young precarious knowledge workers recount their experiences? What relation holds between a high education level and the possibility of effectively deploying the competences and skills acquired? How do knowledge workers represent and deal with their precarious conditions? To answer these questions, this article proposes a definition of the concepts of ‘precarity’, ‘precariousness’ and ‘precariat’ and then focuses specifically on the precariousness experienced by young knowledge workers in Italy and the importance of investigating precarisation processes in light of their experiences. Hence, the present article discusses the invisible face of the conditions of young knowledge workers, which collides with the official face. The latter superficially presents them as ‘independent professionals’, although they increasingly experience conditions similar to those of dependent workers and at the same time suffer the effects of the further precarisation brought about by the crisis, but missing trade-unions support or political representation.

Emiliana Armano Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milan, via Conservatorio 7, 20122 Milano, Italy

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Annalisa Murgia Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento, via Verdi 26, 38122 Trento, Italy

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Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs