Challenges and contradictions in the ‘normalising’ of precarious work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

388 Downloads (Pure)


Precarious work is increasingly considered the new ‘norm’ to which employment and social protection systems must adjust. This article explores the contradictions and tensions that arise from different processes of normalisation driven by social policies that simultaneously decommodify and recommodify labour. An extended framework of decommodification is presented that identifies how the standard employment relationship (SER) may be extended and flexibilized to include those in precarious work, drawing examples from a recent study of precarious work across six European countries. These decommodification processes are found to be both partial and, in some cases, coexisting with activation policies that position precarious work as an alternative to unemployment, thereby recommodifying labour. Despite these challenges and contradictions, the article argues that a new vision of SER reform promises greater inclusion than alternative policy scenarios that give up on the regulation of employers and rely on state subsidies to mitigate against precariousness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)509-527
Number of pages18
JournalWork, Employment & Society
Issue number3
Early online date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • activation
  • basic income
  • commodification
  • decommodification
  • employment rights
  • employment relationship
  • precarious work
  • social protection

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


Dive into the research topics of 'Challenges and contradictions in the ‘normalising’ of precarious work'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this