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- Author or Editor: Emiliana Armano x
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.
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.