The Precariat: the new dangerous class

Co-presented with the Department of Government and International Relations, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Professor Guy Standing
9 February, 2012

92:09 minutes Download video (mp4, 231 Mb)

Millions of people, including many in Australia, are entering a global precariat, part of a class structure shaped by globalisation. This lecture, drawing on a new book, poses five questions. What is the precariat? Why care? Why is it growing? Who is most likely to be in it? And where is it leading us?

The brief answer to the first question is that it consists of millions of people in social and economic insecurity, without occupational identities, drifting in and out of jobs, constantly worried about their incomes, housing and much else. It particularly affects youth, many realising that their certificates and degrees are little more than lottery tickets, leading many into status frustration.

Will the precariat’s growth lead towards an authoritarian politics of inferno, with neo-fascist overtones? Or will a progressive agenda emerge in the squares and cities of protest, responding to Enlightenment values and the aspirations of the educated younger generation being drawn into the precariat?

The lecture will examine the labour market dynamics underpinning the growth of the precariat and outline the new ‘politics of paradise’ taking shape outside the political mainstream.

Professor Guy Standing

Guy Standing is Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath. He was previously Director of the ILO’s Socio-Economic Security Programme. He has written books on labour market policy, structural adjustment and social protection. These include The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011); Social Income and Insecurity: A Study in Gujarat (2010); and Work after Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship (2009). He is a founder and co-president of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN), an international NGO, and is currently involved in unconditional cash transfer pilot schemes in India.