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Instytut Filozofii, Socjologii i Socjologii Ekonomicznej : warsaw_forum_15_karolak
KES - Instytut Filozofii, Socjologii i Socjologii Ekonomicznej
 

 ​Between Normalisation and Resistance. Life Strategies of Young Precarious Workers

 
Mateusz Karolak, Adam Mrozowicki


Abstract

In recent years, the experience of precarious employment and uncertain employment conditions has become the subject of an increasing amount of sociological studies, both in Poland and worldwide. The research places a particularly strong emphasis on young people who, more than other social categories, tend to be excluded from stable segments of the labour market. However, the conclusions drawn from the analyses are ambivalent – on the one hand, we observe a process of normalisation of precariousness which may create framework conditions for the emergence of some expected professional career models; on the other hand, we also notice the process of contestation demonstrated by the precariat, the ‘classin-the-making’. In this article we discuss the problems of precarious work by analysing a range of life strategies of young Poles. The empirical basis for the study was provided by the Beethoven PREWORK project funded by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) and its qualitative part which consisted of biographical narrative interviews with groups of individuals aged 30 or younger, employed on fixedterm contracts, working as unpaid interns or temporarily outside the labour market, from the three large cities and four small towns of Lower Silesia, Mazovia and Łódzkie regions. In this article we present a preliminary typology of life strategies reconstructed in the course of the analysis of the collected data. In each of the four distinguished types we can notice a tension between the normalisation and the contestation of precarity, which adds dynamism to the career choices made by the individuals and – at least in some of the cases – may contribute to the development of diverse forms of resistance to precarious employment.

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