Plans – struggling ….

The plan for the weekend is concluding the final touch – the topic a huge one – and the aim to put struggle on the human rights agenda, understanding these rights not as matter of achieving global harmony but als permanent contest about self-determination in a world without borders – obviously an oxymoron.

The subtitle of the present intro, well, actually the title of the book will be

The Right to Stay – the Right to Move

Aren’t we living in a world of abundance?

Foreword

The present two contributions emerged in rather different contexts than being immediately concerned with what the title suggests: first, the topic employs my thinking for several years – background had been discussions with a former student, Lucey O’Leary, a while back, when I had been teaching in Ireland. She did have a degree in law and discussions emerged from my teaching: social policy, which in my understanding included political economy and also law (social law, philosophy and sociology of law). My background in Political Economy is that of Marx(ism), that of law the learning experience and work at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law/Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich. Over the years, it never worked out to elaborate the reflections which had been nevertheless engaging my mind, guided by the idea of the need of a ‘fourth generation of human rights’.

These considetations moved back towards the top of the agenda while working more recently on economic issues: digitisation and the subsequent hollowing out of social protection systems, but more importantly the far-reaching, though often not sufficiently reflected changes of the mode of production.[1] Leaving the many aspects aside (technology and economics, composition of capital, investment of otherwise overaccumulated capital, shift of and between sectors to name but a few – and considering also that some of the legal issues are very ‘simple’, i.e. issues of blocking social-protection-flight as subspecies of capital flight, applying labour (protection), employment law and (re-)establishing collective bargaining (law) or even more ordinary the criminal offenses of bullying and (sexual) harassment, there are others that require revisiting fudamental issues of law and even further issues around the meaning of justice in a world that is at the very same time shaped by two tensions that are increasingly meaningful and also increasingly interwoven:

  • it is the tension between globalisation, accompanied by standardisation on the one hand and processes of diversification on the other hand.
  • the other trend is about the possibilities of overcoming poverty;[2]but this is just one side of the coin, the other being about an increasing impoverishment, the quasi-destitution of the middle-classes, the shift of impoverishment to the countries that are still the countries of the north and not least the re-establishment of the concurrency of public poverty and private wealth 

Against this background, quesitons of human rights, universality and not least the meaning of socio-economic developments gain new importance, not least demanding overcoming even the standard criteria, or we may also say the standards of criteria. If the present volume had been successful in pursuing this goal is, remains to be decided by the reader.

For me as author remains to thank too many people to list them by their names. There are the many discussants; and there are – two exceptions may be allowed to be personally mentioned: Dorota Borkowska from the Faculty of Economics and Sociology at the University of Łódź, looking after the many students who come every year, diving into what is even today an adventure: studying in a foreign country; and still finding time to support me. The second is Peter Kube, yes, a priest, aus Halle – still, appreciated as discussant and friend to laugh with. Talking with and to him means so much about listening to oneself and I can only hope that it does not mean that he has to go one day a similar way as a person from whom he apparently learned – that person was finally condemned to drinking the hemlock, then price for saying the truth.

Not least, I am grateful for the generous support by The EKSOC Visiting Fellowship Programme at the University of Łódź, Poland (2018/2019) and the preceeding support by the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich, Germany (2017/2018).


[1]     I see thisas core of the entire process while I am admittedly still not entirely sure about the range and wider meaning – the standard answers: (i) nothing really changed, (ii) we witness fundamental changes but they are limited to niches, possibly only temporary outlayers and finally (iii) we are already at the doorsteps of a new mode of production are not really satisfying.

[2]     Evidence may be taken from the success in combatting poverty in China, and also the increasing number of people from the so-called emerging economies joining e.g. the club of the superrich (e.g. Mc Carthy, Niall, 9/2018: Where Super Rich Populations Are Growing Fastest [Infographic])

Annunci

Uncertainty as the highest state of insecurity

The following gives an outlook on a new publication, contributing to the work at the HIGHER SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SCHOOL IN GDAŃSK (WSSE) on Security issues in education and management, selected aspects of social security

Discussing increasing populism and right-wing political movements and social law together is commonly – and without any doubt importantly – dealing with issues of social legislation, employability and emphasising the importance of ‘honesty and reliability’ from the political side. And while globalisation is not condemned, it is at least in tendency suggested to be a centre piece of the present quarrels; migration, low-wage policies, capital-flight and tax competition are then highlighted as major issues. The present contribution aims on taking a wider approach, arguing that one of the major problems is the aggravation of a secular process that may be called – alluding to Karl Polanyi’s work – disembedding of law.

alternative reading

Recently I had been proofreading an article I wrote, looking at

The Particular and the Universal – Indigenous Sports for the Integrity of the Global Village

Though too often this work is the annoying part – but in this case I actually enjoyed it, thinking that there could be other criteria for peer reviewing etc.

  • How often does one interrupt reading to thing, reflect deeply on what had been written
  • How often does one detect connections that are unusual, though showing uo as being interesting
  • How often does one find new knowledge instead of new information confirming what one knows
  • How often is something written with which one does not agree, while one feels nevertheless stimulated by it and is provoked to think about the own ideas and the own standard arguments
  • Is there anything in the text that really provokes looking something up in order to gain some deeper insight, especially is there any “strange cat” – equally alive and dead – mentioned: something that one may have vaguely come across but one is now keen to recap, or study more in detail though it has nothing to do with one’s usual focus (e.g. Schroedinger’s cat – if it is alive of dead is not centrally a matter of [animal] welfare but still may of interest for everybody)

Recently, after having given a presentation, I received a mail by the Dean who was actually hosting the event, He said

…. I thought about a few explanations you shared with us. Nice job. Inspiring …

Leaving aside that there had been some interesting discussion at the end, a line as the one quoted may be the “highest praise” one can get after giving a presentation or writing something. A kind of “slow listening”.

For journal reviews (and reading, of course), it may be good to revisit the usual “comments to the editor”/”comments to the author”.

I remember once about an author, let’s call her A. A’s submission to a journal had been rejected by the review (anonymised process on all sides). The reason, brought forward:

The author did not make any reference to the work that had been undertaken by A.

Again, mind, the reviewer did not know that A had been actually the author of the reviewed article.

And the moral of an amoral academia: Never say anything new, always repeat what you said … – with a wee bit of change, possible just put in the new data: instead of 2xyz, the new article has the data of 2xyz+5. Interesting …

pay for part-time jobs

What is the pay for a part-time job on call?

The other day, booking a flight, I was browsing a bit, also looking at the options of seat-reservation. Another time that I was thinking about this strange construct of today’s economy, reading

The passenger named above has chosen a seat in an emergency exit row. In the unlikely event of an evacuation they will be expected to assist in the opening of the emergency door.

One interpretation is that one pays for some extra space – for more comfort, for medical reasons – or perhaps even to force oneself to store the hand-luggage properly in the overhead bin.

http://politicsslashletters.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/11-Robbins.jpg

Another interpretation: I see myself as part-time casual worker, serving the airline on demand (sure, in the unlikely event they stress), actually even giving up the extra comfort) … – and I pay for it.

Now, a silly remark you may say – but is it really silly? As far as it is known some airlines “offer the opportunity to fly as co-pilot”, the payment being the hours needed to secure the validity of the license.

This “pay-to-fly” principle is sometimes applied at the Irish low-cost airline Ryanair too, according to insiders. Young pilots are not paid for flying, but have to pay for the pleasure of sitting in the cockpit, making flying one of the only jobs you actually have to buy.


To which extent is all this part of a wider move towards something new, i.e. a new capitalism? Surely this will also come up as part of the presentations I had been asked to give in the near future, the first of them next Wednesday.

bit of work done

and finally even available – the recent “products” now out:

Recording of the Presentation in Łódź (29/11/2018)

Digitisation, AI and the need of another economy

***

Recording of the presentation in Ostrava (5/12/2018)

Bubble Economies Bullshit Jobs Shredding Paintings

***

Recording of the Deans Lecture in Łódź (5/12/2018)

Bullshit jobs – but the problem is the stable

***

Publication in the Journal “Economy of the Region”

an article titled

Two-Criterion Model of the Russian Society Stratification by Income and Housing Security, 

Authored by V. N. Bobkov, P. Herrmann, I. B. Kolmakov, E. V. Odintsova,

Another article with the mystery-title 😉

About You – Nur frage nicht, ob du überhaupt bist

in: Tarantel, 12/2018.

Zeitschrift der Ökologische Plattform bei DER LINKEN

Published with some delay, though not out of date the Social Law Report 6/2017 of the MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR SOCIAL LAW AND SOCIAL POLICY

Entwicklungen der sozialen Sicherheit und des Sozialschutzes in Irland. Juli 2016 – Juli 2017

(These are regular reports and the 17/18 report is already waiting for being uploaded)

Now as recording – im German language:

Becoming Socially Acceptable ?

Public lectures are scheduled for the 5th and the 12th December.

After last week’s special lecture to a group of PhD-students, looking at
the upcoming lectures are linking to the recent book “Bullshit Jobs – A Theory”. [1] So is it finally socially acceptable to use such term as Bullshit in academic parlance?
It surely is a catchy phrase, and it also is surely a topic that allows to think abut all the Kafkaesk patterns and requirements …But as glad as I am to take up on the catchiness and as much as I appreciate that Graeber is interested in a very specific point, namely
to understand the psychological, social, and political effects of the fact that so many of us labor under the secret belief that our jobs lack social utility or social value
I am wondering if it is not also a danger of distracting from rather complex issues, linked to more or less fundamental shifts in economic structures.
The honour to give the reputable Deans Lecture at the Faculty of Economics and Sociology in Łódź on the 12th of December provides the opportunity to look at

Bullshit Jobs? suggesting that the Problem is the Stable

The aim is to show that – leaving some general aspects of squander, disrespect and ignorance aside – the underlying problem is an ongoing shift of capitalist accumulation that requires the increasing segregation and fragmentation: The fact that use value and exchange value are juxtaposed results necessarily in the fact that human relationships are systematically torn apart: to relate humans to each other they first have to – speaking systematically – separated by the process of commodification. On the market of commodities they are becoming equal and can – then, ex post – relate to each other. Not least it means that the increasing mediatisation – indeed Graeber points out that most of the relevant jobs occur in IT-related sectors – is necessary condition for making society economically possible. However, it also means that content doesn’t count – as much as capital SEEMINGLY generates capital as much is the sole presence of people considered to be a job, even if it is

a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.

– this is Graeber’s definition.

For the week before, on the 5th of December, the sociology department of the Ostravská univerzita in the Czech Republic organised a special lecture, the title of which is
In addition to the Graeber-book another reference is the more or less recent auto-shredding of Bansky’s Painting “Girl With Balloon” – the latter again giving the opportunity discuss the problems of hegemony and counter-hegemony – the link is given by reflecting on a statement by Hannah Arendt. She contends that
(n)ot cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.[2]
Surely something marking a demarcation we face – be it in the shopping centres or academic institutions or political space.
*****
[1] David Graeber, 2018: Bullshit Jobs – A Theory; New York et altera Simon&Schuster
[2] Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; with reference to Aristotle: Athenische Verfassung; XV, 5 – the available English edition did not contain the statement in this clarity.
******

Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society

Off it went – the script, as “final draft” – had been sent to Springer who agreed already to publish the work as part of the S.U.P.I.series – SUPI being the network researching issues of social uncertainty, precarity and Inequality.

The following presents the outline of the book. Below then part of the first contribitution as kind of teaser, followed at the end by the list of contributors.

Vyacheslav Bobkov/Peter Herrmann (Eds.)

Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society

Acknowledgements5

Peter Herrmann/Vyacheslav Bobkov       6

Foreword: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society     6

Abstract    6

General Remarks        6

Searching for a Framework         9

Bibliography      33

Peter Herrmann       38

Economy of Difference and Social Differentiation    38

Precarity – searching for a new interpretative paradigm          38

Introduction      38

Varieties of Capitalism or Variety Within the One Capitalism?        42

Capitalism in One Country?         46

Societal Development – Between Inclusion and Exclusion     51

Dis-Embeddedness – Searching the Reference     53

Evaluating Costs         59

Empirical Dimensions         63

References         65

Vyacheslav Bobkov  73

Society under Threat of Precarity of Employment   73

Theory and Methodology   73

Outline of ontological characteristics of societies with unstable (Precarious) employment       79

About the axiological characteristics of social structures of precarious employment        85

Social housing standards: minimum, medium and high housing standards.   89

Conclusion         93

References         95

Nataliya Loktyukhina        98

Precarious Employment: Definition of the Concept Given by Russian Researchers98

The Relevance of the Research   98

Variations in Defining the Concept of “Precarious Employment”   99

Russian Experts’ Appreciation of PE Definitions.  101

Compulsory character of relations in flexible (non-standard) employment as a criterion of precarity      103

Types of Employment with High Precarity Potential     105

Features of Precarity Recognized and Unrecognized by the Employee.  109

Complex of Probabilistic Criteria of Precarity.       110

Conclusion.         113

References.        114

I.V. Novikova    117

Digitalization: a New Form of Precarity or New Opportunities?       117

  1. Digitizing of Jobs 117
  2. Elimination of Territorial Boundaries of Jobs’ dislocation 120

III.  Generation Z Enters the Labour Market          122

  1. Development of Specialisation, Multitasking and Vertical Disintegration of Production. 124
  2. Differentiation of Income 125
  3. Non-conventional Workplaces 126

VII. Online-platforms127

Conclusions: Factors of Digitalization, Facilitating and Restraining Precarity of Employment    129

References         130

Olesya Veredyuk       136

Labour market performance and digitisation of work: brief overview    136

Abstract    136

Introductory Overview       136

Precarious employment: quantitative and qualitative measurements    138

Precarisation aspects of digitisation     141

Institutional nature of employment precarity       142

Conclusion         144

Reference144

Veronica Sheen         146

Australia’s precarious workforce and the role of digitalisation      146

Introduction      146

Overview of Australian employment   147

Integration into employment      150

Fragmentation of employment    153

21stcentury hyper-flexibility and job insecurity  154

Precarious employment and social control   155

Conclusion         156

References         159

Nicole Horáková       163

The Czech Republic – a Case Study   163

Introduction      163

Economic Development and Labour Market: From Basement-Dweller to Top Performer?        165

Development of Employment and Unemployment in the Czech Republic      165

Changing Working Contracts?       166

Rising Debts of Czech Households  168

Challenges Presented for the Czech Republic by Industry 4.0 and Digitization       168

Challenges for the Industry         170

How Digitalized is the Czech Population?         172

Industry 4.0 and Digitization: New Forms of Employment on the Czech Labour Market?       173

Education as a key activity175

Conclusion: Is the Czech Society Prepared?176

Bibliography      177

Judit Csoba       181

„Predictable uncertainty” – Social Land Programme in Hungary      181

Abstract    181

Introduction      181

The Social Land Program between 1993 and 2004      182

“Village enterprise” – The new character of the Social Land Program: cooperatives instead of households       186

Social Land Program without land       188

Main dilemmas of the Social Land Programme     191

Summary  193

Bibliography      195

Mehmet Okyayuz      199

Affirmative and Alternative Discourses and Practices of Knowledge Production and Distribution in Turkey199

  1. The Metapolitics of Digitization: The Political-Ideological Discourse of Producing and Distributing Knowledge200
  2. Digitization as an Affirmative Practice in the Global System208

Ray Griffin/Tom Boland/Aisling Tuite / Aoife Hennessy         218

Electric dreams of welfare in the 4thindustrial revolution: An actor-network investigation and genealogy of an Algorithm.218

Abstract    218

Introduction: The Algorithm of life in the 4thIndustrial revolution         220

Socio-Technical Control of Welfare      222

Digital dole – PEX       224

PEX and the Irish Welfare System       227

The implications of the use of an algorithm in context  231

The social life of the PEX algorithm     232

Technotopia, Theology and Redemption      235

Enter faith, then God237

In sum       239

Bibliography      241

Vadim Kvachev         247

Bringing Precarity to the Political Agenda        247

Contributors    260

 

Acknowledgements

The editors want to thank all contributors for the work and the patience which allowed taking the time for the work on the book. We also are grateful for the editors of the series, namely David Kregel, Rolf Hepp and Robert Riesinger – equally patient and supportive. Not least special thanks go to Veronica Sheen who helped with some language editing.

The work on the individual contributions benefited from different sources which are – where applicable – mentioned by the authors.

Peter Herrmann wants to extend his expression of gratitude to the Max-Planck- Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich and the Faculty of Economics and Sociology, University of  Łódź – without their generous support the editorial work would not have been possible.

(just some teaser .. – though many contributions are highly empirical …)

Peter Herrmann/Vyacheslav Bobkov

Foreword: Digitisation and Precarisation – Redefining Work and Redefining Society

Abstract

Currently it is fashionable to talk about digitisation, robotisation, industry 4.0, but also about the gig economy, the Millenials, precarisation and the like. However, too often the relevant issues are taken in isolation, very much caught in traditional terms. The present collection aims on providing some thoughts that allow going further, on the one hand by qualifying some of the aspects, and on the other hand by taking a view that approaches the topic from distinct perspectives in order to arrive at an assessment of emerging societal changes.

General Remarks

The present collection is an attempt to define the field of precarity more systematically than it is usually undertaken. Doing so, there had been at least theoretically different options. The two most obvious approaches are the following: leaving it to the contributors to find their own definition and applying it to national frameworks, later gathering the different approaches in an attempt to find a minimum common denominator. The other, not fundamentally different, endeavour would be to start from a “standard definition”, e.g. one used by major statistical proponents as EUROSTAT, the ILO or OECD, asking the contributors to evaluate and assess the situation in specific fields and countries, then leaving it to the editors again to come up with a minimum common denominator. The problem in both of the cases is that the object of investigation is both, complex and multifaceted as well as relational. Another, pragmatic, challenge is in both cases the need to gather a research team that is able to work along such a given line, in turn committing themselves to such task, which simply requires available resources that allow retreating from other ongoing work.

In any case, in particular the relational character of the subject issue advises to avoid from the outset an approach that requires a firm foundation which is then used to assess the problem by scaling, i.e. suggesting different degrees to which we may speak of precarity. Such approach would suggest at least the following

  • a once and forever given normality, thus neglecting the fact that full and permanent employment – usually counterposed to precarity – is a socio-economic construct that is hugely presupposition-rich. In actual fact it can be said that it is based on a systematic reversal of reality – as concluded in the contribution by Herrmann the means of (re-)production – and with this employment as specific form of work – are fictitious part of human existence, not more and not anything else than means to maintain physical existence. In other words, what is supposedly normal appears now as socio-historical exception
  • furthermore, it is easily overlooked that such “supposed norm” usually depends on derivations: the two most obvious instances are (i) the need for non- or not completely commodified spheres that secure employment as dominant (e.g. housework, social benefits in cases of unemployment, sickness …) and (ii) the local and regional segregation and “division of work” that secures the execution of societally necessary tasks despite extremely dispersed conditions of profitability (e.g. the rural-urban-divide)
  • relevant is also that we are witnessing the multifaceted character by way such normality being itself in some way a patchwork: if we take as more or less arbitrary example, permanent 40 years full-time (forty-hours/week) employment as norm, it will most likely take for every individual a different shape: times of education may under certain conditions be acknowledged as acceptable derivations; DIY or temporary private saving from some kind of “windfall income” may work out as individual solution as some form of “unviable saving” (e.g. substandard accommodation …) may offer temporary substitution for failing to reach the norm
  • moreover – without claiming that this is an exhaustive compilation – in particular socio-economic changes that are part of socio-technical and socio-spatial shifts may well change the overall setting of soci(et)al embedding, disembedding and communication – bonds and margins, solidarities and hostilities are redefined, opening new forms of material support but also new mechanisms of exclusion.

One of the core problems is that there is no – even roughly defined – clear line allowing a demarcation between different facets – insecurity of employment, but only if it is lasting, and only if it is connected with serious material cutbacks, and/or only if it seriously influences social embeddedness and causes psychological distress? Another approach could look for more societal dimensions, asking if we should speak of precarity only if “classical patterns of unemployment” do not apply, as we see it today, where some definitions refer simply to insecure employment moving into the centre of society – a title like InfoproletárIos. Degradação real do trabalho virtual, speaking of degradation in connection with virtual work (Antunes/Braga, 2009) is surely telling as it implies a downward-turn from a given status. On the other hand we witness empirically different patterns: the down-grading of existing jobs, the emergence of new jobs that are from the outset defined by precarious conditions, and a variety of “entries” into a segment which Ricardo Antunes classifies in a broader sense, starting by looking at the character of work; for him “(t)he future of work for the world’s laboring masses appears to be one of flexible employment, with no pre-established working days, no clearly defined working spaces, no fixed wages, no pre-determined activities, no rights, and no protection or representation by trade unions. The system of “goals” itself is flexible: tomorrow’s goals are always changing, and must always be superior to those of the previous day.” (Antunes, 2018). Different approaches can be taken and looking at the literature shows that the most common reference is that we are dealing with some kind of “patchwork”. Different criteria, different combinations, usually centring on employment patterns, reaching from there out to all spheres of life.

In concrete terms this means that this volumes compiles contributions that aim on making a distinct input to the debate by looking at different aspects instead of presenting a strictly comparative perspective. The contributors followed some generally accepted “fundamentals”, highlighting in an interpretative way their meaning regarding the chosen functions and dysfunctions of socio-economic integration. In addition, and this is actually part of the comparative perspective, it is also about the interpretation in the specific national perspectives.

…..

Contributors

Bobkov, YyacheslavDoctor of Economics, Professor, Head of the Laboratory of Problems of Life Quality and Living Standards of the Institute of Socio – Economic Problems of Population of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Boland, Tomis a lecturer in sociology in the school of humanities and co-founder of WUERC (Waterford Unemployment Experiences Research Collaborative)

Csoba, JuditProf. Dr. habil. Department of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Debrecen. Research focus: Sociology of Work, Social Policy, Employment Policy, Social Economy

Griffin, Raylecturer in strategy in the school of business, he is co-PI of the PEX project and co-founder of WUERC (Waterford Unemployment Experiences Research Collaborative)

Hennessy, Aoifelecturer in mathematics in the school of science and computing and is co-PI of the PEX Project.

Herrmann, Petersocial philosopher, having worked globally in research and teaching positions in particular on social policy and economics.

Horáková, NicoleDepartment of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Ostrava

Kvachev, Vadim PhD in Sociology, Assistant Professor, Plekhanov Russian University of Economics, Moscow

Loktyukhina, NataliaDoctor of Economics, Professor, Academy of Labour and Social Relations

Novikova, IrinaPh.D. in Economics, Associate Professor, the Laboratory of Problems of Living Standards and Quality of Life of the Institute of Socio-Economic Problems of Population; Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Mehmet OkyayuzDepartment of Political Science and Public Administration at Middle East Technical University in Ankara/Turkey. Some of his areas of research and education are labor migration along with Political Theory/Thought, Social Policy and Ideology Research

Sheen, VeronicaAustralian social researcher, specializing in the growth and effects of precarious employment which was the subject of her doctoral research at Monash University. She is a widely published commentator on the future of work

Tuite, Aislingis a post-doctoral researcher on the PEX Project

Veredyuk, OlesjaPhD, Associate Professor, Saint Petersburg University, Russia