20 – 23 August 2019, Manchester (United Kingdom) :

Feasible work as a new perspective on employment mutations. Exploring the experiences of the unemployed people by Didier Demazière

Created: 22 July 2019

Feasible work as a new perspective on employment mutations. Exploring the experiences of the unemployed people.

Proposition for the ESA Conference 2019
RN17_m The theoretical and methodological challenges
in the field of work, employment and industrial relations

with Didier Demazière (CSO) and Marc Zune Marc
GIRSEF-IACCHOS, Université de Louvain.

New forms of employment and work are developing, both in salaried work and on its boundaries with informal or self-employment. We explore these changes from the standpoint of unemployment, based on the experiences of the unemployed. These people undergo the uncertainties of searching for a job and wonder what they can expect and demand. Our core hypothesis is that what employment means evolve through the experience of unemployment, and we propose to theorize this evolution with the concept of “feasible work”.
An intensive fieldwork (in-depth interviews with fifty-five unemployed individuals) makes it possible to identify what the “feasible work” they are aiming for means to them. The analysis is then focused on alternative projections to the standard employment norm: different kinds of non-salaried positions, often defined with weak statuses, on the edges of free-lance work and informality. This movement towards autonomous work is invested with two opposite meanings: as a mobilizing alternative, or as a resigned withdrawal. The careers and biographical resources of the unemployed people explain this differentiation.
Finally, we conclude that our approach makes it possible to enrich knowledge of the dynamic of social statuses and the norms that organize them. It underscores the extent to which unemployment is a matrix of enforced socialization into the most fragile forms of paid work. The theoretical value of the concept of feasible work is that it helps to understand the inconspicuous spreading of employment mutations that are usually described by macro sociological approaches.

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