In sociology and economics, the precariat (/prɪˈkɛəriət/) is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. The term is a portmanteau obtained by merging precarious with proletariat.[1] Unlike the proletariat class of industrial workers in the 20th century who lacked their own means of production and hence sold their labour to live, members of the precariat are only partially involved in labour and must undertake extensive "unremunerated activities that are essential if they are to retain access to jobs and to decent earnings". Classic examples of such unpaid activities include continually having to search for work (including preparing for and attending job interviews), as well as being expected to be perpetually responsive to calls for "gig" work (yet without being paid an actual wage for being "on call").

The hallmark of the precariat class is the condition of lack of job security, including intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.[2] The emergence of this class has been ascribed to the entrenchment of neoliberal capitalism.[3][4]


The young precariat class in Europe has become a serious issue in the early part of the 21st century,[5] and has been linked with major populist political developments including the Brexit referendum and the presidency of Donald Trump.[6] A survey conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations discovered that only one third of Germans and one quarter of Italians and French had enough money remaining at the end of the month to buy treats for themselves.[7]

The British economist Guy Standing has analysed the precariat as a new emerging social class in work done for the think tank Policy Network and the World Economic Forum.[6] In 2014, he wrote another book titled A Precariat Charter where he argued that all citizens have a right to socially inherited wealth.[8][9] The latest in the series is titled The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class[2][10] where he proposed basic income as a solution for addressing the problem.

The analysis of the results of the Great British Class Survey of 2013, a collaboration between the BBC and researchers from several UK universities, contended there is a new model of class structure consisting of seven classes, ranging from the Elite at the top to the Precariat at the bottom.[11] The Precariat class was envisaged as "the most deprived British class of all with low levels of economic, cultural and social capital" and the opposite of "the Technical Middle Class" in Great Britain in that instead of having money but no interests, people of the new Precariat Class have all sorts of potential activities they like to engage in but cannot do any of them because they have no money, insecure lives, and are usually trapped in old industrial parts of the country.

The precariat class has been emerging in societies such as Japan, where it includes over 20 million so-called "freeters".[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ F. Lunning (2010). Mechademia 5: Fanthropologies. University of Minnesota Press. p. 252. ISBN 081667387X.
  2. ^ a b Guy Standing (May 24, 2011). "The Precariat – The new dangerous class". Policy Network.
  3. ^ Lorna Fox O'Mahony, David O'Mahony and Robin Hickey (eds), Moral Rhetoric and the Criminalisation of Squatting: Vulnerable Demons? (London: Routledge, 2014), ISBN 0415740614 p. 25.
  4. ^ Wacquant, Loïc (2014). "Marginality, ethnicity and penality in the neo-liberal city: an analytic cartography" (PDF). Ethnic and Racial Studies. 37 (10): 1687–1711. CiteSeerX doi:10.1080/01419870.2014.931991. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-10-10.
  5. ^ Press Europe: September 15, 2011: The "Youthful members of the full-time precariat [1].
  6. ^ a b Guy Standing (2016-11-09). "Meet the precariat, the new global class fuelling the rise of populism". World Economic Forum.
  7. ^ "Cash, credits and crisis: life in the new European 'precariat'". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-10-20.
  8. ^ Guy Standing. A Precariat Charter. Bloomsbury Academic. 2014.
  9. ^ Crocker, Geoff. "The Economic Necessity of Basic Income". Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Who will be a voice for the emerging precariat?", The Guardian, June 1, 2011.
  11. ^ Mike Savage and Fiona Devine (April 3, 2013). "The Great British Class Survey – Results". BBC Science. Retrieved April 7, 2013.
  12. ^ Machiko Osawa and Jeff Kingston (July 1, 2010). "Japan has to address the ‘precariat’". The Financial Times.


  • Standing, Guy (2011). The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9781849663526.
  • Kalleberg, Arne (2018). Precarious Lives: Job Insecurity and Well-Being in Rich Democracies. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9781509506538.

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