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Efforts supporting domestic revenue mobilisation in developing countries are often designed and evaluated based on empirical indicators, such as ratios of revenue to gross domestic product, which capture differences in achieved outcomes across countries. This article studies a complementary approach that also takes into account differences in countries’ fundamental economic structures associated with different capacities to raise revenue, which are not captured by simple ratios of revenue to gross domestic product. Non-parametric data envelopment analysis is applied to estimate domestic revenue potential in a panel of 118 low- and middle-income countries from 2008 to 2019. This approach provides a data-driven measure of how efficient each country is in raising domestic revenue given its national economic conditions. The results indicate that countries’ relative efficiencies do not exhibit the same strongly positive correlation with income levels as typically observed for ratios of revenue to gross domestic product. Instead, countries with low efficiency are spread across all income groups and geographical regions. This suggests that looking solely at ratios of revenue to gross domestic product might be misleading for drawing policy and normative conclusions about how much more revenue a country should aim to raise. Finally, panel regression analysis is used to investigate the extent to which international support is targeted at countries with larger untapped revenue potential.

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Macroeconomic theories picture the economy as a phenomenon tractable by their analysis and thus manageable by macroeconomic policies guided by this analysis. This approach has withstood recurrent policy failures, competing theories and several changes of policy paradigms, from Keynesianism to monetarism, because the development of economics as a discipline has been entangled with the demand from policymakers to receive clear macroeconomic policy prescriptions from the expert community. The idea that policymakers can steer the economy in a desired direction relies upon the development of theories with prescriptive and predictive claims, which, in turn, rely on a great deal of analytic reductionism. As a result, reductionist theories continue to offer misrepresentations of the macro phenomenon, particularly by overlooking how policy interventions generate diverse and intractable micro-adaptations that develop into undesired, unforeseen and unintended system-level consequences. This trend continues to cause trouble: reductionist macroeconomic theories foster overconfident interventionist policies that contribute to macroeconomic instability.

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Author: Klaus Dörre

This chapter takes as its starting point the three-decades-long growth of vertical, class-specific inequalities. At the bottom of the social hierarchy large social groups are forming who are excluded not only from regular gainful employment but also stripped of basic social and democratic rights; from the perspective of mainstream society, they simply appear ‘superfluous’. But how can this structural heterogeneity of social dislocations and disparities be conceptualized in a scientifically accurate and helpful way? It is obvious from countless debates that sociology and the social sciences currently lack adequate theoretical concepts and analytical tools to capture the confusing melange of social divisions, social polarization, widespread precarity and exclusion. This chapter attempts a step towards a resolution of this issue by considering the key concepts of ‘exclusion’ and ‘precarity’ in a way that carves out both their differences from and intersections with the concept of class.

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This afterword draws together the content of the book by highlighting the relevance of studies of precarity in exploring contemporary social phenomena. It emphasizes the role of the theoretical approaches suggested in the book in understanding changes that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the transfer of risks to individuals, which are inherent in the public health response to the pandemic; extensive interventions of states into labour markets; claims of a withdrawal of workers from employment; the growing profile of digital technologies in organizing work; and the attempt by the precarious to establish new forms of agency and subjectivity.

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Author: Charles Umney

Sociological research often suffers from an over-reliance on classification as an end in itself. The idea of ‘precarity’ is also susceptible to this problem. Precarity is often defined as a category, or state, which people can either be inside or outside. When this happens, the analysis risks understating the differences between people who are judged ‘precarious’, and overstating the differences between them and people who are not. By contrast, this chapter argues that the concept of precarity has value primarily when used to describe a situation or conjuncture. Based on a loosely Marxian methodological approach, and drawing on insights from empirical studies in social work and cultural work, it sketches out what it might mean to analyze precarity as a characteristic of a given conjuncture rather than a classificatory tool.

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This chapter identifies two main lines of inquiry among sociological approaches to precarious work: studies on ‘precarity’, which in the European context mainly focus on the erosion of standard employment relationships, and those on ‘precariousness’, which are more interested in the subjective experience that affects not only labour but the entire life of the subject. Using the results of a series of research projects as the starting point, this chapter discusses how precariousness is experienced and represented, including in light of digitalization processes during the pandemic. In particular, the precarious subject is conceptualized as a ‘precarious-enterprise worker’, impelled to become the sole person responsible for their destiny and to invest totally in the production of their subjectivity. By adopting a feminist perspective, a reflection is proposed on how potential forms of resistance to precariousness can be constructed through social relations based on affective and corporeal encounters with others.

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Power relations, welfare provision, labour rights, and neoliberal regulations and discourses lead to the social production of health inequalities. In this chapter diverse pathways are identified through which the precarization of the labour market affect the physical and mental health of young workers. Longitudinal retrospective data from the 2017 Catalan Youth Survey (n=1,247) are used to obtain typologies of youth labour trajectories. Three ‘types’, representing a continuum of precarity, are proposed. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample (n=13) determined according to the typologies. Three pathways emerged through which precarious trajectories affected young workers health and wellbeing: (i) material deprivation; (ii) the limiting of their agency in the construction of future; and (iii) harmful psychosocial working conditions. Precarity and insecurity, understood, after Pierre Bourdieu, as a mode of domination that creates submissive dispositions and constrains workers to the acceptance of exploitation, shape a pathogenic eco-social environment that affects individuals’ health.

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This chapter addresses the emergence of an abstract concept of time: time as disentangled from events. Stemming from late medieval to early modern times, this understanding of time has since been consolidated by the progress of industrialized production and the transformation of the concept of labour into abstract labour. Time calculated in working hours became a social relation measured by clock time. In the contemporary world those shifts operate across at least two dimensions and have had a profound social impact, experienced particularly through job insecurity. Firstly, humans tend to live their own relationship with time less and less as subjects with their own autonomy and, secondly, they do so more and more as objects of a transcendent and external time. The subject’s own time is increasingly vulnerable and powerless, while the time that socially regulates their existence is increasingly an imperturbable continuity outside of the order of events. This chapter aims to understand to what extent these two temporal aspects constitute and are incorporated in contemporary forms of labour precarization.

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