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.


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.


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.

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


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


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



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


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.



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

Precarity – It Isn’t about Employment, It Is the Economy, Stupid…

From the printer
Herrmann, Peter, 2018: Precarity – It Isn’t about Employment, It Is the Economy, Stupid…
No3 (209)/2018: 73-73
Издается с 1992 года Выходит 4 раза в год
DOI: 10.24411/ISSN. 1999-9836
(scroll for English abstract)

На прекаризацию обычно ссылаются как на проблему заня- тости и увеличения неуверенности и нестабильности су- ществования труда в качестве безопасной и предсказуемой основы социоэкономической безопасности – впоследствии мы обнаруживаем нестабильность включения, цельности и полномочий (и/или понимания). Намекая на лозунг «Это эко- номика, глупыш», который использовался в президентской компании Билла Клинтона в 1992 году, данный лозунг исполь- зован в заголовке публикуемой статьи: «Прекаризация – это не безработица, глупыш». Этот тезис звучит в таком объ- еме в обсуждении прекаризации как нестандартное понима- ние экономики, основанное на четырёх базовых принципах: денежная прибыль, экономический рост, конкуренция и заня- тость. Реальный вызов заключается в обращении к ограни- чениям данного базиса из четырёх частей, который преобла- дает в современной социологии, а именно методологический индивидуализм, методологический национализм, методоло- гический солюционизм и методологический презентизм. Объект исследования. Анализ неустойчивой занятости. Предмет исследования. Изменение методологических требований.

Цель исследования. Выявление недостатков существую- щей методологии социологии и перспективы альтернатив- ных направлений методологии.
Основные положения статьи. Определение метода пре- каризации в рамках меняющейся экономической формации.

Ключевые слова: неустойчивая занятость; методология со- циологии; экономика и общество; социальное качество; труд.


Precarity is commonly referred to as matter of employment and the increasing insecurity and instability of obtaining labour as secure and predictable foundation of socio-economic security – subsequently we find instability of inclusion, cohesiveness and empowerment (and/or perception). Alluding to the slogan «the economy, stupid» which had been guiding Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, the slogan brought forward is here «Precarity – it isn’t employment, stupid». The thesis is that much of the debate on precarity is referring to a curtailed understanding of the economy, based in four main pillars: monetary gain, growth, competition and employment. The real challenge lies in addressing the limitations of the quadriga that dominates modern social science, namely methodological individualism, methodological nationalism, methodological solutionism and methodological presentism.

The Object of the Study: Analysing precarious employment
The Subject of the Study: Change of Methodological Requirements
The Purpose of the Study: Identifying flaws of existing methodology of social science and perspectives for alternatives The main Provisions of the Article: Locating precarity within the framework of a changing economic formation

Keywords: precarious employment; methodology of social science; economy and society; social quality; work.

employment – precarity – or what

Precarity of Employment – Precarity of Capital Accumulation – Helplessness of Social Science

Thoughts from the Panel during the 28thEconomic Forum, Krynica-Zdroj, Polonia:
Flexible Employment: A way to a global chaos or to a new model of labour market stability?

a brief note, while already on the way back to Munich …

And the changed title is:

Panem et circenses – but who bakes the bread?

There is no reason to carry owls to Athens – they are there, and at least also one is in Krynica, in the park

– repeating what is well known, e.g. speaking about growth and employment and looking for ways for its enhancement. Opposing is often naively just about rejecting it without thinking about viable alternatives. The core of my contribution in Krynica can be summarised in the following table and a short para, trying to get a bit closer to the ground of things:

(Click to enlarge)

and in the one paragraph:

Precarity can only be meaningfully looked at, if understood as one of two sides of the accumulation regime: there we are dealing with employment issues, around generating value; and we are dealing with accumulation as realising value by combining factors of production and by recombining in different ways use value and exchange value. The one is a matter of production, the other of distribution and exchange. The problematique emanates from the fact of what we may call a “realisation paradox”: Though the market is needed to make surplus real, it is only the productive sphere that makes it possible. The outcome is the “destruction of time“ in the sphere of production, in order to be artificially extended in the sphere of consumption. It should not surprise if one feels reminded of the process of production which consumes raw material, i.e. destroys nature in order to establish artificial consumables.

– I would not suggest that capital/capital accumulation is in a more precarious situation than employment/the employment regime and social securitisation; however, there is good reason to look at (parts of) this under the heading “sex, drugs and crime”.

On the new title: such an event has something of exactly the Panem et Circenses, trying to make us forget that somebody has to bake the bread ….
Follow the link for the recording of some schort remarks.

whereabout …?

The other day I talked with Turkish colleagues – one mentioned the Ankara Agreement, making emigration easy and apparently gaining a new momentum: the opportunity to make use of a quasi-free movement being taken up by many young, qualified people (that is hat I had been told).

https: //www.swissinfo.ch/image/37930398/3×2/640/426/43d81eaeeb4ba567a36be455ccee7930/Ci/chappatte_immigration-37930404.jpg

It is funny then in the sense that young people from all countries emigrate: Turks to various EU-countries, Hungarians to the UK, Chinese to down under, Italians to Ireland, Irish to Poland, Yanks to China … though leaving it as open question to where they really move at the end … – a question if we do not accept that “somewhere” is the mental state of precarity of different forms is.

Migrants of all countries, you are united!

Though there remains the challenge of developing a truly “portable citizenship”, i.e. to become migrants not only by themselves but also for themselves.

Corporate irresponsibility ?

Tomorrow, in the framework of the ‘hour of contemporary issues’, organised at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy, Munich, Amalienstrasse 33, Peter Herrmann will give a presentation titled

The Comedy of Big Data, Or: Corporate Social Responsibility Today, While Corporations wither away?

The following gives some idea what the presentation is about.

Understanding Corporate Social Responsibility requires at least a bit of historical clarification: it would be surely misleading to attribute any kind of entrepreneurial ‘social activity’ to the array of Corporate Social Responsibility. However, such review will be only briefly introduced in order to classify certain activities as related to what may be called social responsibility, the emphasis on the corporation as actor. What, however, if we come to the conclusion that certain shifts in the economy lead – in some digitization industries – to forms of the classical corporation withering away, being successively replaced by a new formation of which we cannot see clear, elusive contours. Are we moving towards revived arbitrary systems of socio-charitable controls, Lidle financing professorships, Aldi and Lidl presenting themselves as supporters of social housing and Facebook controlling elections?  Or can we foster a model which leans towards inherent publicness?