RRPE Call for Papers: Special Issue on Precarious and Informal Work

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Special Issue Collective:
Ronaldo Munck, Tamar Diana Wilson, Ipsita Chatterjee, Ron Baiman, Lucia Pradella, Carlos Salas

Deadline for submissions: 30 November 2018

 The concept of precarious work and employment has received much attention by scholars and organizations, such as the International Labour Organization especially after the global economic crisis of 2007–09, as the informal labor relations of the Global South were seemingly reappearing in the Global North. Some analysts tend to conflate informalization, casualization, and flexibilization with economic and social precarity. Others, focused on the core countries, view precarity as a new phenomenon without taking into account the long history of the informal economy in the peripheral capitalist world as well as the fact that part of the working population in the global North could also always be referred to as precarious.

 Questions to be addressed in this special issue might include the following but we are open to a wide range of approaches critically examining precarious and informal work worldwide.

1.   Who performs precarious work?  Does it vary by geography?  Has it changed over time?  Why does precarious work occur, and does this vary by time and geography? 

2.   What are the similarities and differences between precarious work and the informal economy? Are they essentially the same with the former term being applied to the conditions of labor in the Global North and the latter term to the conditions of labor in the Global South?

3.   What explains the rapid growth of precarious and informal work in recent times? To what extent is this development a long-term trend in capitalism and to what extent does it result from the economic crisis and subsequent austerity measures?

4.   What is the longer history of the spread and the decline of precarious and informal work in capitalism, going back to earlier phases of capitalist development? To what extent is it related to colonialism/post-colonialism?

5.   Is the precariat more typical of capitalism throughout its global history than Marx’s proletariat? Do the concepts of precariat and proletariat describe the same types of exploitation by classical capitalism or can they be seen as distinct? Have these demarcation lines become blurred more recently?

6.   From a global perspective, is precarious work more typical of the capital-labor relation than the Fordist model of workers working in full-time, stable jobs and being protected by labor legislation? Did women and other marginalized groups fill most positions in the secondary sector of a dual-labor market?

7.   What was (and is) the role of rural-urban migration in shaping the global working class? Is precarity an adequate term to describe the growing mass of the urban working poor and the continuing prevalence of rural poverty?

8.   What role does the international migration of unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled laborers, undocumented or contracted, play in the informalization/precaritization of labor in the Global North? Is this a new strategy to divide and weaken labor?

9.   On what basis and around what common issues can informalized/precarious workers organize to achieve greater stability and less precarity in their work lives? Is formalization of informal working relations a progressive program or do other social movement unionism alternatives exist?

10. To what extent does the rise in precarious/informal work reflect the breakdown of capitalist “labor commodification” as a sustainable basis for economic organization?  What are the politics and policy options to counter this, for example: guaranteed basic income, socialization of these companies, socialization of finance.

 Please submit your manuscript to https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rrpe. When asked what “type” of manuscript you are submitting, please check the box that says, “Precarious Work.”

 For questions, or to express interest in submission, please contact Ronaldo Munck or Tamar Diana Wilson, ronnie.munck@dcu.ie or tamardiana@yahoo.com

 All submissions will undergo RRPE’s regular peer review procedures and must not be under review with any other publication. Submissions must conform to the Instructions to Contributors listed in each issue of the RRPE, on the RRPE section of the URPE website, or available from the Managing Editor, editor.rrpe@urpe.org