Guy Standing: The Precariat

The Precariat

Guy Standing provides a very interesting cultural analysis of Globalisation and some utopian food for thought.

This book presents the Precariat – an emerging class, comprising the rapidly growing number of people facing lives of insecurity, moving in and out of jobs that give little meaning to their lives.

Guy Standing argues that this class is producing instabilities in society. Although it would be wrong to characterise members of the Precariat as victims, many are frustrated and angry. The Precariat is dangerous because it is internally divided, leading to the villainisation of migrants and other vulnerable groups. Lacking agency, its members may be susceptible to the siren calls of political extremism.

To prevent a ‘politics of inferno’, Guy Standing argues for a ‘politics of paradise’, in which redistribution and income security are reconfi gured in a new kind of Good Society, and in which the fears and aspirations of the Precariat are made central to a progressive strategy.

From October 2012: Professor of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

August 2006-January 2013: Professor of Economic Security, University of Bath, UK

April 2006-February 2009: Professor of Labour Economics, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

June 1999-March 2006: Director, Socio-Economic Security Programme, International Labour Organisation, Geneva

1998-1999: Member of “Transition Team” of ILO Director-General Elect, Juan Somavia

1996-1998: Director, Special ILO Project on Global Labour Flexibility

1994-1996: Director of Labour Market Policies, Employment Department, ILO

1992-1994: Director, ILO Central and Eastern European Team, Budapest

1985-1992: Coordinator of Labour Market Research, Employment Department, ILO

1975-1985: Economist and Senior Economist, Population and Labour Policies Branch, Employment and Development Department, ILO
University Education

1973-1977: PhD in economics, University of Cambridge, UK

1972: MA in labour economics and industrial relations, University of Illinois, USA

1968-1971: BA in economics, University of Sussex, UK

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5 Responses to Guy Standing: The Precariat

  1. Why is it he, like all pro-labor idealogues, seems blind to the underlying problem? The underlying problem is that the powerful have robbed us all of our land. Give us back our land, and we no longer need to pay rent in order to survive. You take us off the treadmill. We can always fall back to our land. We no longer need accept the wages the same powerful are willing to pay us. You also stop threatening the more capable, intelligent, the ‘clever’ he refers to, with the armed robbery of the of the fruits of their labor under the guise of taxes, redistribution, charity, fairness, and duty. Let that be a private matter of the conscience.

  2. PeterMG says:

    Standing in common with many academics of all persuasions, knows there is a problem and in common with many others academic or otherwise can readily identify the root of the problem. However these left wingers solutions have usually led to a worsening of the problem. I think Standing is completely befuddled with what he terms Left and Right wing. He is using these terms to define policies he may like or dislike whereas “Left” & “Right” in the political sense refer to how we are controlled, centrally (left) or individually (right). All Monarchies & Dictatorships are the ultimate manifestation of Left wing due the centralising of power. Left and right are not about whether your health service and schools are state or privately owned, but about how much autonomy the individual has. What this guy ignores is that developing our individual identity and sense of personal responsibility has been eroded at an accelerating rate. The people he calls right wingers that control the media and pollute our schools and universities are left winger trying to exert control over everything we do. When he understands this he may understand a solution.

    So having identified a key problem in our globalised world where we are all getting underpaid for our Labour, he can’t bring himself to understand how to fix it. Property is one of the biggest issues and there needs to be controls where by the rich just cannot own all the land. Many properties in London are unoccupied and the rich owner just purchases these building to sit on for investment purposes. I work in London where there is an acute shortage of property. Back in the mid 80’s my wife and I could afford to buy a house. My eldest daughter now 30 and a senior registrar in a hospital is further away from being able to buy a house than I was as a labourer at 21 on a working holiday from New Zealand. Something has gone wrong, and it is not just the Marxist academics who are thinking deeply about this. Perhaps this is a better way forward
    And certainly this is the prerequisite as the EU is the greatest current impediment to all Europeans gaining the necessary freedom to advance their Standard of living. and click on Flexcit on the menu bar for the full PDF

    • malagabay says:

      I became very disenchanted with the political Left vs Right paradigm at a very early age.
      Both sides seem to be motivated by very unattractive basic instincts: power, greed and envy.

      My survival instinct leads me to distrust both sides.

      The Left offers Big Government and income redistribution.
      The Right offers Big Business and income redistribution.

      The post World War Two political era of bread and circuses seems to have resulted in the worst of both worlds: the Globalisation of Big Government and Big Business.

      However, my personal perception is that the post World War Two political era of bread and circuses [in the West] is drawing to an end.

      The era of Big Government has grown by generating a mountain of unsustainable debt and by nurturing unsustainable expectations like the welfare state.

      Similarly, Big Business has grown by generating a mountain of unsustainable debt [both corporate and consumer] and by nurturing unsustainable expectations of never ending profits and growth.

      In my view, western democracies are slowly transitioning from the politics of consumerism to the politics of indebted servitude e.g. Greece.

      Thus, we live in interesting times as voters begin to acclimatise themselves to the new normal.

      Some voters will see more Big Government as the answer to their problems.
      Others voters will see less Big Government as the answer to their problems.

      This voter confusion seems like it will inevitably open the door for a new generation of populist politicians like Tsipras, Le Pen, Farage and Trump.

      However, as some point, these politicians will have to choose between democracy and Big Government.

      The evidence from Greece is not promising.

      The concept of politicians voting for less government is as unrealistic as the concept of turkeys voting for Christmas.

      The concept of a majority voting for less government is also as unrealistic as the concept of turkeys voting for Christmas when over 50% of the voting population is feeding off the government teat.

      I guess I realised a long time ago there are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and conflict.

      My next realisation was that governments will always have arbitrary control over these certainties.

      My last realisation was that globalisation is the great leveller: we are all surfs now.

      Such is life.

  3. PeterMG says:

    I like your:

    The Left offers Big Government and income redistribution.
    The Right offers Big Business and income redistribution.

    I too distrust both sides but it took me until about 2003 to be fully disenchanted with both sides. The global warming nonsense started me off and the blatant lying over “weapons of mass destruction” nailed the coffin lid closed. I should have known better earlier but c’est la vie.

    I have been looking at the voter confusion and in particular the Greek tragedy. I don’t think the Greeks will be an example of what will happen to Europe for the following reasons. In particular Greece is beset with corruption, and by admitting Greece into the EU and the Euro (membership is compulsory for all new members) the EU has unwittingly or otherwise imported that corruption into the entire EU. The Greek people voted freely for membership of the EU & Euro as they don’t trust their own government to govern them correctly and expected that from Brussels and Strasbourg would transform their country. However none of them, or very few anyway engaged their brains to see what was likely to happen. The Country has been transform, just not in the way imagined.

    So now we have the bazaar sight of the electorate voting in more and more extreme politians because the mainstream ones, who were either corrupt or unable to stop the corruption knew they were beholden to Germany and powerless to stop the severe austerity, unable to devalue their currency and in fact unable to deploy any of the tools an independent nation might use to recover. So having responded to the lack of response they vote in “alternatives”

    Until the Greeks get it into their heads that Germany is not inclined to do redistribution of wealth and that the only way out is out of the Euro (EU) then no political party can achieve anything in Greece. By contrast, the British whilst not currently very trustful of our political class trust others even less. That is why in addition to not wanting the Euro, the British people are increasingly wanting out of the EU. We see the Greek attitude to their Politians repeated in Spain and I would guess in Italy.

    France will be the big test. I cannot see the French people agreeing to hand over the governing of their country to others. They also feel it has gone far enough. So the trick for the Colleagues in the EU is how they fool the people of France into thinking all the forthcoming treaty changes are aimed only at the Greeks, Italian and Spanish etc. Some interesting time ahead and I do think the establishment is slowly losing control. They will kick and scream some, and try to start a war or to two distract us, but, the writing is on the wall. I think it will be the Anglosphere that will lead the way out, as it has often done in the past.

  4. Jim Coyle says:

    Looks like communism, smells like communism, sounds like communism, It must be theoretically “good ” for you. What do you have to fear for except your very existence.

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