Paying Attention to the Precariat

Thanks to Ruth for alerting me to this post on the “precariat,” the “growing class of insecure workers whose wages and working conditions do not provide economic stability.” This growing “precariat” is in strong contrast to the workers in Swados’s novel, who enjoyed a level of job security unsurpassed before or since (in the US at least).

Working-Class Perspectives

As I wrote in October 2012, the precariat – the growing class of insecure workers whose wages and working conditions do not provide economic stability – ought to be getting more attention in American political discourse. I have urged mainstream journalists covering labor issues to use the term, which is increasingly being used in Europe.  Several reporters have told me that they don’t use precariat because readers would not understand it.  Writers think it’s clearer to refer to this group as the underclass or chronically unemployed. Of course, proletariat is verboten for mainstream journalists.

But last week, New York Times columnist David Brooks broke the pattern. In “The American Precariat,” Brooks tries to explain why Americans, who used to be willing to move in order to improve their economic position, are increasingly likely to stay put, even when that means passing up potential jobs.  According to Brooks, some…

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