Haven’t We Always Been Precarious?

It is unquestionable that precariousness has been established as an essential characteristic that comes to define life in times of post-Fordism. One of the most representative aspects of precariousness is the emergence of the idea of multitude, which, identified as precariat, conceives itself as a new kind of “oppressed class”—but not necessarily in classic Marxist terms—given the actual conditions of the labour market: flexible, temporary, highly competent and educated, demanding, variable and, in general, unstable.[1] Nevertheless, these characteristics constitute a new form of labour exploitation, well defined by the activist Alex Fonti as “On-Call Worker”. 

A common understanding of the birth of the precariat starts with the crisis of the welfare state. The idea of a stable and secure fixed-job relation between workers and the private or public sector—which for many years was understood and promoted as the model structure for capitalistic production coming from developed countries—in the contemporaneity is becoming disintegrated to give space to less regulated laws that benefit the employer, which is to say: more unstable jobs for the multitude without legal protection from the State. This is a typical scenario in industrialised and neoliberal economies, nevertheless, also implemented around the globe. That is why, under these circumstances, some questions arise when thinking about the precariousness outside its traditional conditions: What are the consequences for societies that have never managed to provide or consolidate a welfare state? Is it pertinent to consider in this context the existence of the precariat? Moreover, if the case, how could this multitude be articulated as support for artistic production?

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Publicado en: Entkunstung Journal; Número 7

Noviembre, 2018