TRANS Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 17. Nr.
Januar 2010

Sektion 8.1. Prekäre Lebensbedingungen, unsichere Arbeitsverhältnisse – Expansion sozialer Ungleichheiten. Auf dem Weg von der Peripherie zum Zentrum?
Sektionsleiter | Section Chair: Rolf-Dieter Hepp (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Rethinking Precarity in a Global World(1)

Peter Herrmann (University of Cork)


Sempre libera degg'io
Folleggiar di gioia in gioia,
Vo' che scorra il viver mio
Pei sentieri del piacer,
Nasca il giorno, o il giorno muoia,
Sempre lieta ne' ritrovi
A diletti sempre nuovi
Dee volare il mio pensier.(2)

Table of content:


  1. Introducing Remark
  2. Developing a Historical Perspective
  3. A Market Place
  4. Current Pictures
  5. Modes of Accumulation and Life Regimes – Developing a Theoretical Framework
  6. Excurse: Framing Conditions Through the State
  7. Locating Precarity – Shifting Borders, Shifting Centres
  8. Histories of Precarities
  9. Closing Remark

Editorial Note


The contribution discusses precarity and develops – very much on an impressionistic basis, but well informed by a historical-dialectic approach and using the theory of regulation – an understanding by looking for a historical perspective. Social precarity is understood as imbalance of capitalist societal systems and stands against social quality. Usually seen as matter of the life situation of individuals and groups, precarity is here actually seen as a major flaw of the societies and the mechanisms of social integration. As such, it is as well made clear that the economic mechanisms behind it are one but one factor only of a development that disintegrates the entire society. As such it is important to see as well the historical character – the thesis here being that precarity is actually a ‘normal’ state of societies as far as societies – their accumulation regimes and modes of regulation – reach only temporarily a state of equilibrium.


1.Introducing Remark

The bourgeoisie, by the rapid improvement of all instruments of production, by the immensely facilitated means of communication, draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation. The cheap prices of commodities are the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls, with which it forces the barbarians’ intensely obstinate hatred of foreigners to capitulate. It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.
(Marx, Karl/Engels, Frederick: The Communist Manifesto [1848]; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 6: Marx and Engels: 1845-48; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1976: 477-419; here:488)

The debate on precarity – as much as the conceptualisation of Social Quality, which had been brought forward by the present author on several other occasions – is very much developed from a Western, EUropean and ahistorical perspective. This is definitely a limitation. Some wider and ‘global’ consideration seems to be proposed by the work on Human Security, developed in the framework of the United Nations. However, as much as a global perspective is missing, the question remains open how to achieve a broader view. Is it just by taking different aspects and worldviews into account? Here the thesis is that it is more crucial to introduce a more thorough orientation on history – introducing with this a sound understanding of the accumulation regimes and their respective modes of regulation on the one hand, and doing this with an investigation of life regimes and modes of life on the other hand. As such it is a matter of linking time and space by social action, social action understood in a Weberian sense.

In such a perspective it is as well easier to understand precarity in its ambiguity. It will be shown that precarity is actually very much a – though unacceptable – phenomenon of transition periods. It is exactly this character that makes precarity being a matter of disintegration of the core of society. Whereas poverty, exclusion etc. are prevailing patterns, the new situation of precarity means that even the centre of integration is in tendency dissolving. In other words, precarity is a process of dissolution of society into individuals, forced to aim on sustaining themselves and being as such exposed to the ‘individualist socialised capital’ (the latter means that we have capitals with a super power [for instance with budgets larger than nation states] but largely controlled by individuals and/or acting as capital in [quasi-]monopolist positions). In consequence, precarity is a ‘life pattern’ that gains validity as well for people at the centre of society, justifying in many respects to speak of a refeudalisation of society. As such, precarity is a pattern that is highly relevant for individuals but as well for (welfare) societies as such.


2. Developing a Historical Perspective

Talking today about globalisation, is by and large taking place by applying an ahistorical approach. This does not mean that we do not find occasional reference to earlier phases and stages of globalisation. However, the underlying understanding of history is one that is somewhat disjoined, looking at history as succession of steps rather than understanding it as developmental process in which individual action and societal development go hand in hand. We are acing the concrete, which is, as Karl Marx put it

is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse.
(Marx, Karl: Economic Manuscripts of 1957-58; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 28: Karl Marx: 1857-61: London: Lawrence&Wishart; 1986: 38)

Aiming on circumventing such limitation, a somewhat unusual approach is taken here, looking at matters in question in two perspectives, the first suggesting a reconsideration of time; the second with a somewhat impressionistic view on parts of the phenomenology of globalisation.

For the first part, some lengthy quote will follow from the ‘Novel of a Fateless’ by Imre Kertész (Kertész, Imre: Roman eines Schicksallosen. Translated from Hungarian by Christina Viragh; Reinbeck: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag; 2002 [8th edition] [in own translation into English]). There we read the following.

‘By time’ ‘What does that mean, by time?’ ‘It means that time helps.’ ‘Helps …? Helps with what?’ ‘It helps with everything’, and I try to explain to him what it is like to arrive at a train station – not a luxurious place but still an acceptable, clean and neat place. And only there everything is getting clear, reflecting the sequence of time, step by step. After having left the one step behind, knowing oneself being beyond, one suddenly grasps everything. And while one grasps everything one does not remain inactive: one already acts on arising matters, one lives, one acts, one is moving, answers the new challenges on every new step. Without this sequence of time – and if one would be overwhelmed with the entire knowledge in just a blink of a second – we probably would not be able to cope with it; most likely our brain would burst and likely also our heart … ‘ ‘I understand’ ‘On the other hand, so I continued, there is definitely a shortcoming with this, I could say the disadvantage as one has to spend this time in one way or another. For instance – so I told him – I captured who had been already four, six or even twelve years in the concentration camp – or to be more precise: who still had been there. Now, all these people had to go through the entire four, six or in the last case twelve years, it means in the last case twelve times three hundred sixty-five days, that is three hundred sixty-five times twenty-four hours and even more twelve times three hundred sixty-five multiplied by twenty-four multiplied by … and the entire time back again: in seconds, minutes, hours, days: this means that they had to go through it and beyond it from A to Z, in which way ever. And again, on the other side – so I added – it may well be possible that this helped them; if the entire time, the entire twelve by three hundred sixty-five by twenty-four by sixty by sixty time would have been overcoming them in one piece, in a blink of an eye, they would not have been able to cope with it; they would not have been able to cope with it physically nor psychologically – not in the way they finally managed. And as he remained silent, I added: ‘It is in this way that one has to think about it’ On this remark he said – in the same way as before, but now he didn’t hold the cigarette anymore which he had thrown away; instead he held his head, with this giving his voice an even more tedious, nearly suffocated tone: ‘No, one cannot imagine it,’ and I accepted this. For myself I thought: now, this will be the reason that they speak of hell instead – most likely.
(ibid.: 272 ff.)

At a different point of the conversation another momentum is mentioned – now talking about the situation during the war years at home:

There was one word I mentioned during their talk; it was repeated again and again, a repetition which was nearly tiring. It had been a word used to mark any turn, any change, any movement: for instance the houses of the Yellow Stars ‘came’, October 25th ‘came’; the Nyilaskeresztes Párt(3) ‘came’; the ghetto ‘came’; this event at the Danube ‘came’; and finally ‘came’ the liberation. Now, there was this common mistake again: as if all these events, this entire blurred, in reality barely imaginable – something that they could not grasp anymore in its individual parts – did not happen in the usual sequence of minutes, hours, days, weeks and month; rather, it seemed to happen within one moment, just in one maelstrom, reeling…
(ibid.: 279 f.)


3. Market Place

Let us now delve into history – imagine what our society of today is like by taking a picture from another time. Taking ‘cultural factors involved in creation and reception … into account in an audience-reception study’ (Sullivan, Margaret: Bruegel’s Proverbs: Art and Audience in the Northern Renaissance, in: The Art Bulletin, vol. 73, no 3; September 1991: 431-466; here: 431), we can try to approach history at least at a first glance by looking at a picture, searching its meaning for understanding soci(et)al integrity and processes of soci(et)al (re-)production. The chosen picture is Pieter Breughel’s the Younger The Blue Cloak (1559).



What does the picture show  – and what does our imagination of the time allow us to see of the era.

It is a kind of market place, people gathering and doing their various business – doing their very own thing, interacting with other individuals, acting on something and in one or another way creating something. The overall picture is well ordered, the interaction split into vivid individual acts, concerned with a variety of issues – some seem to be educational in the wide sense, some about simple communications but many actually about some kind of exchange, subsistence, preparation of food – actually all single acts are captured meanings, proverbs: moulding a more or less complex issue into a single and easy to grasp act: a snapshot of a complex interaction of and in time and space, bound together and expressed and also brought forward by social action. It is about production in the material sense and with the production of utility values – and in case of market societies: exchange values – also the production of meanings, patterns of interactions etc.. All this is as well about production as re-production. To remain in the framework of Pieter Breughel’s painting we can interpret it as proverbial process as – at least temporary – normalisation of the fetish.(5) Going beyond the individual acts – and meanings – captured in the painting, the spectator seems to be drawn away, captured by a flow. Looking at the details, shows that many of the views of the actors go more or less directly into the same direction, finally being caught by a real stream: by the bay and the obvious flow of the water into the wider stream or even open sea and finally by the light of the sun – as the outgoing boat suggests the light of dawn. But let us stay – as most of the actors in the picture did at their time – and let us step away from the picture. We can use the painting as means for getting inspired to reflect on a likely scene of the time. The actual light of the picture is more likely where the people are rather than in the top right to where stream and sun are drawing the attention of the spectator. Though such a light is capturing, enlightening the scene, a market place we would likely find in such a bay as ideal traffic gateway. But as much as such light from outside is enlightening the scene, the activities are visible – and meaningful – in their own realm: as manifestation of relationships. On a market of this kind we would find exchanges amongst people who are in one or another way in control of their own situation. One remark is very important: such control is by no means even nearly complete. Property relations, power structures etc. guarantee inequality. However, such market place would suggest that every individual is at least in control of his/her own … – if not products and producing, so at least history – personally ‘reflecting the sequence of time, step by step’ to use another time the words of Imre Kertész. – In analytical and theoretical terms we are talking for instance about matters as the tendency of the falling rate of profit as presented by Adam Smith, the accumulation of capital in the way elaborated by Karl Marx not least with the immanent tendency of the concentration and centralisation of capital and the crisis of over-accumulation, and the tendency of capitalism to destroy its own social framework, still developing from there a new stage of capitalism rather than overcoming the capitalist system – a point made by Joseph Schumpeter under the catchword of a creative destruction.

Finally, we see in the left corner something peculiar: pushed back, maintaining a residual power or being the invisible ruler? – At least it seems to be a witch sitting there, looking through the window and maintaining power. The question may be left open: is this power aiming on counteracting the pull by the light – the enlightenment – and the stream – the pathway to world trade and the pull coming from and push for other shores? Or is this supremacy backing it, being the magic and nativeness of a spirit that allows departure by maintaining security in some kind of faith? Is it the loss of sense of the cunning of reason?

We will make a huge step, flying across time and even times, not recognising it, and landing in a different epoch. Some notion of the meaning of such a new era can be grasped by remembering the words by Adam Smith, characterising the social division of labour – interestingly written in Book V, dealing with The Reserve of the Sovereign or Commonwealth, thereof the Article II Of the Expense of the Institution for the Education of Youth, and a subsection where Smith deals with the education of women. He writes:

Though in a rude society there is a good deal of variety in the occupations of every individual, there is not a great deal in those of the whole society. Every man does or is capable of doing, almost every thing which any other man does, or is capable of doing. … In a civilized state, on the contrary, though there is little variety in the occupations of the greater part of individuals, there is an almost infinite variety in those of the whole society. These varied occupations present an almost infinite variety of objects to the contemplation of those few, who … have leisure and inclination to examine the occupation of other people.
(Smith, Adam: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations [1776]; With an Introductory Essay and Notes by J. Shield Nicholson; London: T. Nelson and Sons, 1891: 327 f.)

You may have heard about a novel written by Alfred Doeblin: Berlin Alexanderplatz. Or we can take the Ulysses, written by James Joyce.  We can look as well at another picture: Lights of a Big City by János Vaszary – a picture produced in 1930. All these are reflections of modern and modernising times. – It is not the place to discuss what actually the term modern means – here it is simply used in a double sense: as referring to something contemporary but as well as dealing with a settled or settling society. A society that has clear overall structures and that is still obsessed by the idea of insatiable thirst to gather something new, to move further in its own development – a society that does not want to recognise existing boarders and strives for more and more of its own; a society that wants to replicate itself endlessly. In economic terms we are talking about what Adam Smith saw as equilibrium, described by Giovanni Arrighi in the following words:

More specifically, Smith conceives of economic development as the filling-up with people and physical capital (‘stock’) of a spatial container (‘country’) that encompasses a given endowment of natural resources and is shaped internally and bounded externally by laws and institutions. When the spatial container is ‘under-stocked’ and ‘under-peopled’, as in the cases of the North American colonies, there is great potential for economic growth – a condition or ‘state’ that Smith calls ‘progressive.’ When the spatial container is ‘fully stocked’ and fully peopled,’ as in the case of China and Holland, in contrast, the potential for economic growth, if any, is not so great – a condition or ‘state’ that Smith calls ‘stationary’ but that in contemporary language would be described as one of economic maturity.
(Arrighi, Giovanni: Adam Smith in Beijing. Lineages of the Twenty-First Century; London/New York: Verso, 2007: 49)



It is an exclusive society as well as it does not only disregard any borders. Furthermore it does not accept the fact of being a society at all; it strives on defining itself as just being there, existing without being produced; and it appears to be a society of individuals, a re-productive process, independent from its actual content.

The website gives the following interpretation on Janós Vaszary’s piece of artwork from 1927:

The picture is a part of contemporary attitude to life and art trends. It represent true confessions of an artist who said in 1927, ‘evolving art has more to do with a locomotive than Raphael’. Vaszary was fascinated by landscape and cities which had changed as a result of the technical revolution of the 1920s. The picture is divided into two parts. Through a large window without curtains, one can see a street in a city lit by neon signs, lines of cars and queues of people. A crop-haired female nude with a boyish figure, the ideal beauty of the age, is lying in the foreground of the room in front of the window. The picture is divided into sections by horizontal and vertical contours of objects and by diagonal beams of reflectors which light the room, and illuminate and highlight the female nude. The black cover under the nude serves the same purpose: this is a well-known method of the artist to highlight a figure with plasticity against a plain decorative background. Vaszary included lessons of purism and constructivism into the composition without giving up his links to nature.
(; 22/12/07 - 7:46 a.m.)

Looking at the two pictures in a historically-interpretative perspective discloses a fascinating paradox of history: the earlier picture is about the actual construction of society, showing the real life of people – people who are actually not in power, one could even say not even in control of their own affairs. This means as well that it deals to a large extent with a reproductive momentum of creation. It is a largely depictive presentation, setting the different acts into a sequence but maintaining their individuality – one can say a picture that is sequencing the societal genome and leaving it to the spectator to re-assemble the entirety. However, at the same time, when put into perspective , it shows the inherent push and pull of leaving the cage of an existing – temporary – equilibrium. The later picture is not looking at the construction of society – instead, it presents the constructed society – constructivism showing another dimension of depictive presentation: the fact of a given society: impression of the product, impression of the stream rather than the actual flowing. As such it presents itself as loosing history. Everything has a place – reflecting society in which the individual can only gain validity outside of the picture: the ‘crop-haired female nude with a boyish figure, the ideal beauty of the age’ in the foreground: the oeuvre’s centre being actually outside of the picture – though still in the centre by presenting the paradox of the time: the importance of pure nature and the shape of purity by the societal norm. And with this we face also the loss of the appropriating, productive individual, instead meeting the homo consumens.

The ‘Alex’ still exists; and walking through Dublin today – leaving the crowds of tourists aside –still allows the occasional impression of being lost, stranded between different forces as immediacy and genuine relationship. But at least on the Alex the buzz, the flickering and hectic movement of people seems to be gone latest after 1989 – and it seems that this and similar places are not spaces where people live, doing their business and enjoying live and togetherness. Instead, they are featuring a conglomeration of houses – provocatively challenging Pericles’ insight, who supposedly said that it is people, not houses that are actually making a city.

Still, it seems at least from the outside that all these shopping places and centres are as well a well-ordered world of occasional traffic jams, construction works of new office buildings, people walking majestically or rushing into office buildings – occasional by-passers stopping for a chat. And some security guards: private security services – the same crowd as we may know them from any airport security, civil or uniformed police men and women; or heavily armed guards: the machine gun hanging  casually across their shoulder. Berlin is unified under the rule of the West, allowing the big M showing the way across the streets like once the star of Bethlehem showed the way through the desert; and also the small crocodile peeping from the chest of smart men, bewitched by the women who are passing their way, proudly atomising the scent of a poppy-flower, wearing their bag, rather carrying it as repository for needed gear, building their own emporium of cheekiness.(7) Dublin made its peace with Stormont. Buda and Pest are since long unified – a bridge across the Danube being a conduit allowing people to weld together. And the bridge between Buda and Pest marked even more the character of the city, being with its geo-political location a city that had been for a long time a little bit a bridge between East and West, between the Christian and Muslim world – and throughout its history always showing clear marks of a chain and a bridge at the same time. And in the meantime Budapest is as well a bridge towards the former West – Carrefour, Tesco, and C&A, Vodaphone and Renault having their anchors paced deep into the flesh of the country. And where they could not reach into the flesh they tried to move into the people’s hearts – the Habsburgs, formerly emperors and kings, exposing themselves now as mastery of the general good and goodness.(8)

And wars are at least not affecting daily life anymore – the war seems to be banned to far away places – and apparently we found even somebody going to war for us. Or do we actually go into war for ‘that president’? And do we do so perhaps just by the neglect of opposition? If we accept that we are now living in a well-ordered world – some even claim that we reached the end of history – we have to accept it; and at the same time we have to go beyond looking at things in terms of ‘time’ mentioned earlier by quoting Imre Kertész, thus seeing as well our role on the stage of global – and local – history.


4. Current Pictures

These years it is so visible in a country as Ireland – a country that has been for a very long time a country of emigration, since a couple of years however dealing with at least four currents of immigration: people returning to Ireland, some of them returning after such a long time that they are now foreigners in their own country. Then we find the asylum seekers, refugees – people entering Ireland for different motives, having left their homeland for political or economic reasons. We find now a third group – people coming especially from Lithuania and Poland, some as well from other countries, especially from the so-called new member states of the EU. Adding to all these ‘foreigners’ there is another group – in a way for nearly everyone the strangest people, though not being considered as foreigners but as ex-patriats. For many people these ex-patriats are actually not even visible – as American business men, as high-flying bankers or speculators from Asia, a few of them perhaps as highly specialised academics from other European countries, they may not attract attention by their mere view. Or they may not even physically pass the way where the famous Mrs You and Mr Me and their kids, the two little They, play – at airports they sit in lounges, on the streets they are driven in limousines with toned glass, escorted by ‘disguised guards’, they life in hotels of which we barely know the name and in restaurants they sit in separées.

Are we not back to something like Pieter Breughel’s Blue Cloak? Now seeing him painting an Irish Adage? Is this not similar to such a market place: people gathering and doing their various business – doing their very own thing, interacting with other individuals, acting on something and in one or another way creating something. Yes, again the overall picture seems to be well-ordered, the interaction split into vivid individual acts – allowing us only to see a tiny clipping.

Again, let us introduce time by looking at the different facets – a picture, a movie-like picture, reflecting a recent experience at Dublin airport.

The scene is set in a more or less recently opened restaurant airside – it is not a cheap place, however it is reasonable compared with the other, older eating-places and especially if compared with the restaurant at the other side. The usual goes hand in hand with something unusual: although one goes to choose the meal of the self-service restaurant at the different counters – the salad-bar, the juice counter, the little pastry corner, there is one counter that deserves special mention: the one for serving warm dishes. Two people behind the counter offer the food that is listed on a black board. The difference is that the food is freshly prepared – en lieu. A fresh and clean pan is taken and even if the boards offer ‘set dishes’, they are not only freshly prepared but as well ‘individually designed’ – the kind of vegetable, the sort of rice, the sauce ...; it is occasionally difficult to understand the young – I assume – Polish women; and it may be that the man from India next to her has as well occasional difficulties to understand her (and vice versa, of course) – but it may be as well that we only perceive language difficulties in these cases; if it would be somebody speaking with a strong American, Northern Irish or Kerry accent, we might not even think about it. But even if we may get the impression of being misunderstood or not understanding: Friendliness doesn’t make it difficult to ask in order to clarify. – A door opens in the background from the left side, a women, perhaps 40 years of age, enters the narrow working area, apparently Irish and definitely bossy. The friendliness on the side of the workers doesn’t disappear, but now it is overshadowed by something that looks like an amalgam of sadness and servitude and resignation, still ready to change immediately afterwards to something that looks genuinely friendly, though it now has the notion of being possibly a mask, the hiding away of alienation and longing for identity. An impressionist view suggests at least that many people are living at the very same time in different worlds – time and space and decision being torn apart, moreover: life is apparently simultaneously taking place in different times, in different spaces and in different fields of decision making – a picture of second order. However, now it is not the primarily like a cornucopia, opening up to new and momentarily desperate spaces. Rather, it is the amalgamation o different incompatible spaces and identities and expectations.


5. Modes of Accumulation and Life Regimes – Developing a Theoretical Framework

There are different dimensions to all these scenes – real or imagined. All these scenes are in one or another way reflecting the economic life, the accumulation regime of their time. And this reflection is definitely not the reflection of the core of the accumulation regimes in question. Instead we are concerned with hints on what the core is about, as well hinting on the ideology of the times. With this remark we arrive at developing a theoretical perspective. The usual approach of economics is largely limited by looking at the econometric extracts of reality, ideally fading out the actors or at most considering them as rationally acting individuals. On the other hand, we find views on individual actors, however always limited not only by the fact of considering them as atomised individual ‘rational actors’. Moreover they are considered as actors who can actually freely make decisions. In other words, the notion of the

free labourer, free in the double sense, that as a free man he can dispose of his labour power as his own commodity, and that on the other hand he has no other commodity for sale, is short of everything necessary for the realisation of his labour-power.

(Marx, Karl: Capital, Volume I [1867]; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works; volume 35; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1996: 179)

is – consequently – transposed into a single mode of regulation: the ‘free decision-maker’, free in the double sense, that as a free man s/he can make decisions in his or her own right, and that on the other hand s/he has no other means of surviving than making a decision among formally equals. It is exactly this what is required by contract regulation, defined by Lotti Ryberg-Welander by the following four elements

(Ryberg-Welander, Lotti: Legal Technics. A structure of legal rationalities. Presentation University College of Cork, Department of Applied Social Studies; 15.1.2007).

However, a real insight will only be gained by bringing together the two sides: it is the individualised actor whose embeddedness into the economic system is not a matter of the individual decision as far as these decisions are solely about transactions. Rather, any such decision is also bound in abstract terms into the entirety of the accumulation regime.


6. Excurse: Framing Conditions Through the State

In this context it is important to accept two fundamental issues, pointed out by the theory of regulation. First, the process of commodification, and more general: the economic process is going far beyond an econometric relation. In the words of Henri Nadel

To this day, neoclassical economic theory ignores not only the historical aspect of economic laws, but also the fact that the very substance of economic relations is social – in other words, composed of socially instituted forms.
(Nadel, Henri: Régulation and Marx; in: Régulation Theory. The State of the Art; Eds.: Robert Boyer/Yves Saillard; London/New York: Routledge, 1995: 29-35: here 32)

The ‘social linkage’ is not least due to the mediation, guaranteed by the mode of regulation.

This is especially visible by looking at the development of the modern nation state. For our purpose we can agree with the four dimensions defining the state according to Michael Zuern and Stephan Leibfried who write

We define the modern state in four, intersecting, dimensions. The resource dimension comprises the control of the use of force and revenues, and is associated with the consolidation of the modern territorial state from scattered feudal patterns. The law dimension includes jurisdiction, courts, and all the necessary elements of the rule of law, called ‘Rechtsstaat’ or constitutional state in German-speaking countries where it is most closely identified with the widely held concept of the state. Legitimacy or the acceptance of political rule came into full bloom with the rise of the democratic nation-state in the 19th century. And welfare, or the facilitation of economic growth and social equality, is the leitmotif of the intervention state, which acquired responsibility for the general well-being of the citizenry in the 20th century.
(Leibfried, Stephan/Zuern, Michael [eds.]: Transformations of the State; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005: 2 f.)

In other words, the state

had evolved four dimensions and fashioned them into a tightly woven fabric – a multi-functional state that combines the Territorial State, the state that secures the Rule of Law, the Democratic State, and the Intervention State, and which we connote with the acronym TRUDI.
(ibid.: 3)

Elements of each can be found throughout history. What is new is that they are now tightly interlocked. As such, the really important factor is that this state marks not so much a new stage of political development but the development of a new accumulation regime, where

[p]ublic intervention in the social arena originated mainly in the tensions caused by two factors: those linked with the question of the nation state and those resulting from industrialisation and the growth of the wage-earning class.
(André, Christine: The Welfare State and Institutional Compromises. From Origins to Contemporary Crisis; in: Régulation Theory. The State of the Art; Eds.: Robert Boyer/Yves Saillard; London/New York: Routledge, 1995: 100; here: 96)


7. Locating Precarity – Shifting Borders, Shifting Centres

Such perception is especially of interest when developing a wider understanding of precarity in a global-historical perspective as we find during the times in question, representing a fundamental shift of the mode of regulation. In other words, the thesis is that precarity – as matter going beyond poverty and exclusion – is caused by a fundamental shift of and within the accumulation regime and a subsequent shift of the system of regulation that has far-reaching consequences for the entire mode of integration. One can say, social precarity – now defined as lack of people’s ability to participate in the social-economic, cultural, juridical and political life of their communities under conditions which enhance their well-being and individual potentials for contributing to societal development as well (see Herrmann, Peter/van der Maesen, Laurent: Precarity – Approaching New Patterns of Societal (Dis-)Integration [working title]; in: Hepp, Rolf [ed.]: The Fragility of Socio-structural Components/Die Fragilisierung soziostruktureller Komponenten [working title]; Rome: Link; forthcoming) – is very much an expression(9) of a rather fundamental lack of societal integrity. As said, this goes beyond poverty and exclusion; important is as well to note that it is not a matter of personal disorientation. Here it is proposed to look at precarity as matter of a lack of societal integrity of which the consequence is that the – temporarily stable – balance of

dissolves. In other words, fetters of a given economic system (accumulation regime) are dissolving into new structures, decision-making processes (governance; mode of regulation) are delayed adapting to the new conditions and the mode of life has to adjust. As far as this is concerned with the insecurity of decision making for the individual, the availability of material resources is at least a means to provide a procrustean bed, allowing – and enforcing – readjustments. Individually and socially

resourcefulness means the freedom to pick and chose, but also – and perhaps most importantly – the freedom from bearing the consequences of wrong choices, and so freedom from the least appetizing attributes of the life of choosing.

(Bauman, Zygmunt: Liquid Modernity; Cambridge: Polity Press, 2000: 89)

As much as we face the problem of a lack of socio-economic security, precarity goes beyond by questioning the social as outcome of the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment. With this in mind it fundamentally questions people’s productive and reproductive relationships.

In order to capture this pattern we will first look at the two dimensions of the definition of precarity. Robert R. Riesinger pointed in his presentation on Prekaer, Prekarisierung und Prekaritaet. A Contribution on the History of a Term (presentation during the IRICS-conference, Vienna, 9.12.2007 – power point presentation) on two different etymological dimensions, namely

This means as well: in order to understand precarity better we have to see it against the background of the free decision-maker, free in the double sense that as a free man s/he can make decisions in his or her own right, and that on the other hand s/he has no other means of surviving than making a decision among formally equals. As such it gains special relevance in periods of adaptation – new developments in the accumulation regime requiring new modes of regulation. It is suggested to differentiate the general definition as presented above into three strata of precarity, depending on the changes of societal structures, namely

This connects well to the

three levels of analysis … according to a decreasing degree of abstraction … At the most abstract level, régulation theory analyses mode of production and their connections. …
At a second level, régulation theory describes the social and economic patterns that enable accumulation to occur in the long term between two structural crises. …
A third level of analysis concerns the specific configurations of social relations for any given era or geographical location.
(Boyer, Robert/Saillar, Yves: Summary of régulation theory; in: Régulation Theory. The State of the Art; Eds.: Robert Boyer/Yves Saillard; London/New York: Routledge, 1995: 36-44: here: 38

Still, all before mentioned forms of precarity would be concerned with a general issue – in one or another way linked to the question of material resources and to matters of inclusion. What is going beyond ‘simple poverty’ and ‘exclusion’, is the undermining of the capacity to act in such a way that it cannot be overcome by measures of integration into any given society – the lack of such possibilities is simply due to the fact that the integrity of society does not exist and the required resourcefulness as defined by Zygmunt Bauman is lacking. In other words, it is the over-condensation of time, the compression of time and space, suggesting liquidity, in actual fact however giving individuals the feeling of sitting in a block of concrete and being washed away by a raging flood – the pictures from above can be seen as different visualisations of such dissolutions. And proverbs, as referred to in the first picture, are in themselves a reflection of this: practice in time and space condensed in a single phrase. In other words: the condensation of time, space and social action as the over-concretisation, taking the form of a concrete procrustean bed. The questions seem to be the same during times, the fundamental answers seem to be the same – however, the framework for elaborating the answers is changing (in this context a comparison with some patterns from Asia may be helpful; see for instance Herrmann, Peter: Care Services – Core of Sustainable Empowering Welfare Systems – An Integrated Approach Towards a New Care Framework. Presentation for The Fourth Annual East Asian Social Policy Research Network (EASP) International Conference in Tokyo, October 2007: Restructuring Care Responsibility: Dynamics of Welfare Mix in East Asia; published at

Reference for further understanding can be made to the proposal of understanding development as alternating process of societalisation of immediate social interaction and re-appropriation of societal contexts and structures (see for instance Herrmann, Peter: Social Professional Activities and the State; New York: Nova Science, 2007: 110 f.). Another important point of reference is the focus on empowerment as matter of different modes of appropriation (see Herrmann, Peter: Die Organisation. Eine Analyse der modernen Gesellschaft; Rheinfelden/Berlin: Schäuble Verlag, 1994: 71).

In this context it is worthwhile to consider as well the notion made by Tom Marshall (Marshall, Tom H.: Citizsenship and Social Class [1950]; in: Citizenship and Social Class; T.H. Marshall/Tom Bottomore; London et altera: Pluto Press: 1992), summarised by Christopher Pierson in the following table:


(Pierson, Christoph: Beyond the Welfare State? The New Political Economy of Welfare; Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991: 23)

Such development shows at least clearly the advance of socialisation as process first of increasing individual’s ‘access to society’, then increasing direct and structured access to society, and next provision of links that secure individual’s participation in daily life. In other words, the process of socialisation is concerned with increasing empowerment. In actual fact we can interpret the process of socialisation as increasing mutual obligation: the individual, obliging him/herself to society is awarded by the obligation of society to secure the individual’s existence. – Historically, it is within the framework of economic systems that are based on the division of the producer from the means of production the logical transformation of the extremely limited rights of the slave to the system of mutual ‘personal obligation’, that shaped the relationship between client and patron, to the ‘welfare system’ of the modern state.

Inasmuch as the human beings are as individual’s recipients of statutory remuneration their opportunities to act and their individual mobility increase; the emancipation of the individual vita from traditional collective contexts is pushed further. The institutions of the welfare state promote and favour ‘on the basis of stabilised expectations of income and continuing provision of services of general interests’ [Daseinsfuersorge] (Mayer/Mueller 1989: 47) individualisation.
(Ebers, Nicola: Individualisierung. Georg Simmel-Norbert Elias-Ulrich Beck; Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen&Neumann, 1995: 245; with reference to Mayer, Karl Ulrich/Mueller, Walter: Lebensverlaeufe im Wohlfahrtsstaat; in: Weymann, Ansgar (ed.): Handlungsspielraeume. Untersuchungen zur Individualisierung und Institutionalisierung von Lebenslaeufen in der Moderne; Stuttgart 1989: 41-60; own translation; PH)(10)

In other words, precarisation means the braking away of these stabilised expectations.

A further factor has to be mentioned, playing a role in terms of cause and expression of shifting securities of the mentioned kind. The change of accumulation regimes is to a large extent a matter of internal and external extension of the space of action. Economically different moments play a role, different terms are used to describe specific aspects of this process: expansion and intensification of production – and exploitation –, increasing absolute and relative surplus values, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, specialisation and diversification of production, and of course globalisation. An important aspect of all these processes that links the economic changes with daily life, comes from a perhaps unexpected side – the world systems theory as far as it is dealing with processes of segmentation of power and the division of the world into different power agglomerations – centres, semi-peripheries and peripheries and relational shifts. The main argument is dealing with a division of the world, replicating the national class structures on a global level. The north-south divide is a main issue in this regard; the east-west and later west-east divide is another matter in question. However, we find already since the beginning at least of capitalism – if not since the emergence of any tradin/marketg societies – as well a spatial division within closed settings of the national systems – looking at earlier historical phases, the process of urbanisation is the most pronounced process in this regard. Today, the situation is well captured by Saskia Sassen who – after commenting on the increasing gap between rich and poor – is asked

Where do the cleaning men, waiters and childminders live? Obviously they cannot live in Manhattan anymore.

Her answer:

They are moving into other quarters of the city, until they have to leave there as well. The middle class is in the same way affected. Those who did not buy forty years ago an apartment, move away from Manhattan. Others loose their home. Since the end of the 1980s we find a group of homeless people: families with their children. Today the highest rate of homeless people is amongst  children.
(Sassen, Saskia: Zone of Glamour or New Colony. The sociologist Saskia Sassen on Venice, the New Service Class and the Power of Global Cities; Interview by Serge Debrebant; in: Fluter. Magazin der Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung; Bonn: Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung, September 2007: 28-29; here: 29 [own translation])

She answers the next question

Two years ago cars had been set under fire in the banlieues of Paris. Is this form of violence an answer on the income differences in global cities?

with the following words:

Yes. It is a political answer to the income gap, although this violence is not limited to the global cities. It emerges at the margins of the large Western cities where we find a conglomeration of disadvantaged and immigrants. I call these quarters post-colonies. Today’s colonies are not in Africa nor in Asia – they are right here. They have a specific milieu with its own culture. It is thus that we can explain the gangs in the American large cities. These young people do not find their orientation in their parents who have low-income jobs; instead they orient themselves amongst each other, within the peer group. The middle-class children meet each other via Internet on Youtube, the children at the margins of the cities in gangs. The gangs are expression of their identity.

This means that a large problem, connected with precarity today, is not only the dissolution of existing borders and the emergence of new borders. Important is that the dissolution turns into a seemingly permanent process. In a global perspective it means that we are facing a complex and rather permanent confrontation of different centres of the global world system: we find the different centres as especially the United States of North America and Western Europe and again the Asian countries, however in a global perspective by no means of equal strength and within these macro-centres we find an own centre-periphery structure. Going further, the different peripheries have their own internal centres and peripheries. This picture is even more complicated by the existing cross-links and intersections, not least caused by migration. Concrete: people from the periphery of the periphery may move to the periphery or even the centre of a centre of a macro-centre (we find this for instance with many migrants from India); and we find specific (production) connections between the centre and the periphery that makes peripheral centres being more like branches of the centre than being independent global players. In any case, the precarity of existence at the margins moves ever closer towards the centres itself. Looking at Mexico City or São Paulo, one may even say that the old centre-periphery structure has been dissolved by the process of globalisation: The character of being a centre is not anymore bound to a world region; instead, today mega cities can play the role of a centre although they may well be located in the middle of a peripheral region – before the distinction between four strands of migrants – the various foreigners and the ex-patriats – had been highlighted. – And still, with all these shifts and dissolutions there seems to be an ongoing paradox: the continuing and even strengthened meaning of traditions and communities.(11)

Before looking at examples of concrete historical developments, a final remark with respect to theoretical considerations is useful. The state – at least as we know it today – is caught in a fundamental dilemma. On the one hand it emerged as state that secures the rule of law as means to counteract the arbitrariness and randomness of the feudal system and it’s ruling. However, it could only do so by fundamentally acknowledging equality before the law – the principle of contract regulation had been mentioned before. This went hand in hand with – and was actually precondition and means for – establishing a capitalist accumulation regime, based on strict formal equality. However, the dilemma is twofold. The one aspect is that formal economic equality in a capitalist production systems leads in both, the production system and the exchange process, to inequality. The other aspect is that such a system consequently has to deal with arising political claims – it is the claim of a civil society as brought forward for instance by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in his Philosophy of Rights (Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich: Elements of the Philosophy of Rights [1820]; edited by Allen W. Wood; translated by H.B. Nisbet; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), and as it had been criticised by Karl Marx in his work On the Jewish Question (Marx, Karl: On the Jewish Question [1843/44]; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 3. Marx and Engels 1843-1844; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1975: 146-174) and equally in his Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law (ibid.: 3-129). This means as well that precarity – with its two dimensions is concerned with the individuals’ capacity – or better: power – of controlling change. And here we are back to what had been said before by quoting Imre Kertész – precarity can be seen as loss of time, the loss of control over the own development within society.

If there is something like destiny, freedom is not possible: but if … freedom exists, then there is no destiny, that is …, well that means that we ourselves are the destiny …
(Kertész, Imre: Roman eines Schicksallosen. Translated from Hungarian by Christina Viragh; Reinbeck: Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag; 2002 [8th edition]: 284 [in own translation])

Looking at precarity then means to see those as living in precarity who lost their freedom, who lost control over time.

– It is an open problem how we can say this while considering that the reference made by Imre Kertész is the life in a concentration camp – a situation where people lacked to a nearly absolute extent a perspective we would usually call ‘control’. Furthermore it has to remain open in which way such a statement can be reconciled with looking at extreme poverty where such a control is as well undermined. This brings a fundamental difficulty into the debate, namely the danger of incapacitating certain groups of people by suggesting they would not have any history, that they lack own time. For the time being it is suggested

  1. to interpret the relationship as matter of spanning between on the one hand social quality and on the other hand social precarity.
  2. It seems to be useful to look at the issue of control more in depth by introducing

In sociological terms it is the phenomenology of time, as we know it from Henri Bergson that comes into play.


8. Histories of Precarities

The implication of what had been said is not least that precarity is something ‘normal’ for certain periods in history. We find disoriented, searching movements and structural disruptions and turns that make precarity likely in so far as adaptations and readjustments are required with regard of the different arrays of control: the societal (re-)productive sphere (accumulation regime), the regulative sphere (mode of regulation) and the daily life (mode of life). The three pictures from above – Pieter Brueghel’s Blue Cloak, the Lights of a Big City by János Vaszary and the own impression from the airport in Dublin – are in this sense typical (though impressionistic) for such situations; and at the same time they are just used for inspirational reasons, the presented thoughts going beyond their actual meaning.

First, we can interpret the picture The Blue Cloak as marking a situation of opening – leaving aside if the painter actually meant to say this. As mentioned, we find politically a curve from the old mystifying system of ruling in the top left: as said the brush at first sight proposing an association with witchcraft across the daily life of people and being sponged by a new world – a world of which the borders cannot be seen though the opening itself is a border in its own right and meaning. This curve suggests intuitively the association with a cornucopia. What makes such interpretation even more tempting is that a closer look actually discloses the exposure of foolishness. Being painted in the middle of the 16th century and dealing with proverbs, we can see the societal and social changes of previous securities fading away – proverbs lost their self-explanatory power, demanding something like a translation into a new world that is peeping around the corner; not entering itself into the picture but opening, and being opened, by the actors – this is at least what the ordinary (European) reading of the time suggests: following from left to the right and striving towards the light. Precarity seems to be likely in such transition, shifting away from

  1. economically direct, local market interaction towards mediated exchange over long distances
  2. politically mystified though internalised rules to mediated ruling – again creating distance to the ruler.

Though the new patterns are seemingly objective, and accountable they are at that stage at least overshadowed by the lack of internalisation. One could say as well: the extended scope of action is not yet internalised and causes aspirations for clarification for new bonds. The well-ordered overall picture dissolves into various individual acts, each still meaningful by tradition, but in their totality absorbed by the enlightenment and establishment of the rule of law. ‘Meaning’ needs explanation; ‘stabilised expectations’ need reconfirmation and reinterpretation. At this stage, the only continuity seems to exist at the extreme of the social bottom. Actually those who are even literally excluded are presented in another oeuvre of the painter: The English title is The Beggars whereas the title in Dutch language is De Kreupelen, i.e. The cripples.



Second, looking at the picture Lights of a Big City by János Vaszary, we face another shift of regulatory relations – the picture is visualising the loss of society, the externalisation of society – or the externalisation of the individual. On the one hand the pictured individual and the presented society are not inherently interconnected: The picture gives the impression that the said ‘crop-haired female nude with a boyish figure, the ideal beauty of the age’ – the metaphor of real life, of an ideal to strive for? – positioned outside of the main field, though very much attracting the attention of the viewer. Still, there are two strong links: the one is simply the light – not belonging to the person nor belonging to the buzzing city. In its own right it draws a connection between the two – the bridge gaining more importance than the matters that are bridged. Then, the other connection is that what is visible outside is not a matter of production: Bar and Dancing and Radio seem to be a second bridge between the buzz of the street and the retreat of the individual. One can say as well – and this would be very much a reflection of the mid-twenties of the last century – precarity is here due to a society in dissolution by cutting the link between production and circulation even further: the individual seems to be expelled from the core of societal (re-)production. In that time and age, precarity is very much a reflection of people loosing their rights, or developing the feeling of being lost due to the formalisation of relations. As much as János Vaszary pictures bridges, as much we find an entire arts movement dealing with bridges, even more: seeing itself as bridge – The German, though international group of artists Die Bruecke (s. Coming back to the topic in question, the point is that it is now the link between accumulation regime and life regime and also the link between mode of regulation and life regime which is broken. This established the link between precarity and members of the middle class, leaving those at the bottom of society – be it blue-collar workers and also most of the white-collar workers – very much exposed to poverty. The difference, if compared with the previous period, was that we are now dealing with excluding those who live in precarity, keeping at least a meagre place for those in poverty whereas the first setting was more about excluding the poor and providing some niches for those living in precarity.

Coming to the third impression we find another frontier breaking away: whereas in the first case the economic system opens, still leaving the national and local market in place, and whereas in the second case the boarders within the given system – economically and with regard to life – seem to break away – it is in the third case again the breaking away of borders of the economic system, however, now forcing in particular the individual actors to move: limitations of  ‘markets’, margins of fields of practice are getting blurred and the openness is emerging – for many – as new limitation: materially and mentally an actual appropriation is not possible in an integrated way.


9. Closing Remark

It is important to note that dealing with precarity has to look at two dimensions.

The first is that precarity is concerned with a social issue, an issue that concerns the integrity of society rather than individual living circumstances. As such social precarity is – similar to social quality – an analytical tool although we can translate it simply as condition of lacking social quality. Here, the entirety of accumulation regimes, modes of regulation, life regimes and modes of life plays a role; concrete we are dealing with (the lack of) their connectedness.

Second, precarity is concerned with the living conditions and life patterns. However, in this regard we should not forget five relevant dimensions.

Such interpretation is not meant to play down the problematique of precarity. On the contrary, it is about clarifying the role of mechanisms of regulation: they cannot be reduced on accommodating individuals’ needs by integrating them into existing societal patterns. Instead, if we accept what had been said in the words of Henri Nadel – that ‘the very substance of economic relations is social’ – we have to accept also that social change can only be a matter of changing the core of the economic structures. But this does not mean to simply change the distributive mechanisms, encourage independence and support the independence of individuals – such approaches would be favoured by for instance supporters of liberal policies (work-fare, the orientation on an ‘entrepreneurial society’ etc.) and equally followers of (neo-)Keynesian redistributive and anti-cyclical policies. What is required is a twofold approach: First we have to deal with the short and medium-term quest of the synchronisation of production-oriented, growth-enhancing and distributive policies in a way that also allow both the synchronisation of economic time and economic space. A careful observation of (Nikolaj Dimitrijevitsj) Kondratjev-cycles is also required. However, this leads on to the second factor, namely the negation of the negation of the private system that is underlying the understanding of the system of private and semi-private production. The dis-synchronisation is not least an expression of the falling apart of privatisation of accumulation and regulation whereas objectively an increasing socialisation takes place. In other words, whereas on the one hand and objectively both, the chains of interdependence increase, precarisation is the forced cut-off in form of individualised decisions and actions, actions in the small space and with a very limited time-perspective.

Finally, such perspective has also consequences for debating post-modernity. We find in various eras throughout history similar shifts as they are captured by theories of post-moderntity. This means, however, that issues, currently discussed under such heading, are more appropriately captured by pointing on temporary imbalances – one can say as well that phases of capitalist stability are actually the exception and its normality is nothing else than permanently struggling with finding mechanisms of temporarily bearable compensations for the inherent imbalances of power in every day life. Post-modernity is, in other words, very much concerned with the re-definition of citizenship rather than its dissolution. With respect to an earlier era of such re-definition the following statement by Saskia Sassen is insightful.

The transformation of citizenship into a national state institution and away from one centred on cities and civil society was part of a larger dynamic of change. Key institutional orders began to scale at the national level: warfare, industrial development, and formal educational and cultural institutions. These were all at the heart of the formation and strengthening of the national state as key political community, and the one crucial to the socialization of individuals into national citizenship.
(Sassen, Saskia: Territory, Authority, Rights. From Medieval to Gl;obal Assemblages; Princeton/Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006: 282)

Where this re-definiton fails – temporarily or in perpetuity – we find a dissolution and incongruence of ‘spatial and temporal orders’ (Saskia Sassen) and that means: we find precarity. However, in order to fully understand this, it is again important to apply the insight re-quoted before, namely that ‘the very substance of economic relations is social’.

Editorial Note


1 Elaboration of a Presentation in the framework of the Symposium Precarious Living Conditions, Insecure Labour Relationships – Expansion of Social Inequalities. On the Way from Periphery to Centre? (Chair: Rolf Hepp; Free University Berlin) in the framework of the KCTOS: Knowledge, Creativity and Transformations of Societies, Vienna, December 2007
    The paper goes in some parts back to research undertaken during a research visit in 2007, made possible with the generous support by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei.
2 I have to be free for ever,
       Pass from one joy to another like being mad
       I want my life flowing like this
      Following the path of pleasures
      Be it dawn, be it dusk,
      I want the day to find me full of joy
      My thoughts flying
      To ever new joy
3 Hungarian fascist party: Arrow Cross Party
4 From; 22/12/07 - 6:32 a.m.
5 On the fetish character Marx, Karl: Capital, Vol. I [1867]; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 35; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1996: 81-156
6 From:; 22/12/07 - 7:46 a.m.
7  Formulations alluding to ads of the time.
8 Archduke Georg of Austria (Paul Georg Maria Joseph Dominikus von Habsburg-Lothringen) Prince Imperial of Austria, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, (16 December 1964 - ) [information from] is now president of the Hungarian Red Cross.
9 Note: not a mere consequence
10 In this context it is interesting that enlightenment took much earlier place in the Asian countries and was not linked to the development of modern capitalism. This means on the one side that capitalism had to take an entirely different form in these countries than it took in the West; on the other hand, however, it is not less important to see that enlightenment itself took an entirely different shape – and so did the relationship of individual, social and society (for further discussion Herrmann, Peter: Social Quality and Global Social Policy; Hong Kong/Taipei: Casa Verde [in preparation])
11 It is especially – though not only – here where I want to express my gratitude to Yitzhak Berman with whom I enjoy many exchanges via e-mail and unfortunately only few opportunities to meet personally.
12 FromÄ._024.jpg; ; 22/12/07 – 8:13 a.m.

8.1. Prekäre Lebensbedingungen, unsichere Arbeitsverhältnisse – Expansion sozialer Ungleichheiten. Auf dem Weg von der Peripherie zum Zentrum?

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For quotation purposes:
Peter Herrmann: Rethinking Precarity in a Global World - In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 17/2008. WWW:

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