From Entitlements to Privileges: The Normalisation of Precarity in (Post-)Crisis Spain

Schwaller, Corinne Nicole (12 September 2019). From Entitlements to Privileges: The Normalisation of Precarity in (Post-)Crisis Spain (Unpublished). In: Congress of the Swiss Sociological Association: The Future of Work. Neuchâtel, Switzerland. 10.-12.09.2019.

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Over the past decade, recession, austerity politics, and labour reforms in Spain have accelerated and intensified the precarisation of employment and complicated the access to living wages, employment-based social security, and a ‘middle-class lifestyle’ for many people. The Spanish labour market is characterised by its very high levels of temporary contracts. Also, labour rights have been dismantled and the collective bargaining power of the workers weakened. And yet, work is not losing its important function in allocating feelings of social worth, independence, and personal autonomy to individuals. This paper explores the shifting forms and values of work through the experiences and narratives of highly educated young adults in Barcelona who are in prolonged precarious employment situations. In contrast to people who have long been affected by precarity, highly
educated young people cannot easily be marginalised, neither socially nor analytically. However, I argue that their exploitation in the labour market is (partly) obscured by an on-going process of normalising precarity. I understand the normalisation of precarity not only as a quantitative increase in precarious jobs, but, more fundamentally, as a shift in the perception of what counts as precarious – or not. A changing moral order of employment is shifting the boundaries of acceptable levels of inequality and exploitation and is
turning former entitlements of wageworkers into ‘privileges’. The empirical reality of shrinking employment opportunities and austerity politics, in combination with a dominant (political) discourse that presents ‘having a job’ as a privilege is creating a new normality of
unstable work and a reduced horizon of expectation of the workers; they are being habituated to accept ever worse employment conditions without protesting.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Social Anthropology

UniBE Contributor:

Schwaller, Corinne Nicole


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology




Corinne Nicole Schwaller

Date Deposited:

30 Sep 2019 15:09

Last Modified:

30 Sep 2019 15:09


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