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The Governing and Resistance of the Precarious Other: Migrant understandings of “now” as well as their future in a Swedish context

Conference contribution
Authors Mona Lilja
Mikael Baaz
Published in 1st International Conference Europe in Discourse: Identity, Diversity, Borders. Athens, Greece.
Pages 149
ISBN 978-0-9979971-0-1
Publication year 2016
Published at School of Global Studies, Peace and Development Research
Department of Law
Pages 149
Language en
Subject categories Sociology, Other Social Sciences


Precarization is not a marginal phenomenon, but describes a major social transformation in many parts of the world. Since the end of the 1970s, neo-liberal or libertarian ideas have gained support from politicians and governments around the world. These ideas have become imbedded into European discourses. One neo-liberal idea that had a significant impact in Europe during the 1980s was the idea of “labour market flexibility”. Its implementation meant changes to the rights of employees. Together with new technological developments and ways of making profit without labour, these shifts have decreased the value of labour. It has also led to increased unemployment (Butler and Kania 2013), as more people are becoming dispensable and substitutable. In all, millions of people have become “precarious”; they are living under conditions characterised above all by economic uncertainty (Standing 2011). But precarization does not merely signify insecure jobs and lack of economic security. For the individual, precarization can characterise the whole of existence, the body as well as modes of subjectivity. This article analyses the precarization as a major social transformation in Europe, using an intersectional approach. According to Judith Lorey the precarity: “denotes structural inequalities – uncertainties that result from relations of domination along gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, nationality” (2015). According to Standing (2011) some groups are particularly exposed to the new precarization. Among others, migrant’s growing labour market role has coincided with the growth of the precarious and they have taken a disproportionate share of precarious jobs, being far more likely to have short-term contracts or no contracts at all (Standing 2011). Migrants, in western industrial nations, live under situations marked by scarcity and lack of security. Departing from the above, this paper displays migrant understandings of their precarious situation, their comprehension of “now” as well as their future in a Swedish context.

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