Precarity: The Significance of a Controversial Concept

  • Elena Gasiukova
  • Ovsey Shkaratan


The authors focus on the category of precarity that refers to the phenomenon of dynamic instability resulting from income fluctuation and frequent job changes. Precarious workers view their situation as deviating from the norm and standards of living typical of their immediate circles. Thus, the term precarity describes a situation which is beyond the scope of the labour market and not confined to categories representing non-standard employment relations. As both objective and subjective parameters need to be taken into consideration in precarity studies, the conceptualisation of the phenomenon should not be subject to rigid universalist categories. Identification criteria prove to be contextual. The authors are convinced that the term precarity denotes a fundamentally new phenomenon not reduced to employment insecurity situations of the past. The article demonstrates that it is wrong to equate the modern situation of precarity with the position of an exploited proletarian worker, as the structural components of the labour market have changed, and the experience of the previous generation has affected the development of employment standards used as a benchmark today. The concept of precarity refers to a phenomenon without any precedents in the past and is highly relevant for studying modern labour markets.