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The Precariat: Today’s Transformative Class?

  • Guy StandingEmail author


Since 1980, the global economy has undergone a dramatic transformation, with the globalization of the labour force, the rise of automation, and—above all—the growth of Big Finance, Big Pharma, and Big Tech. The social democratic consensus of the immediate postwar years has given way to a new phase of capitalism that is leaving workers further behind and reshaping the class structure. The precariat, a mass class defined by unstable labour arrangements, lack of identity, and erosion of rights, is emerging as today’s ‘dangerous class.’ As its demands cannot be met within the current system, the precariat carries transformative potential. To realize that potential, however, the precariat must awaken to its status as a class and fight for a radically changed income distribution that reclaims the commons and guarantees a livable income for all. Without transformative action, a dark political era looms.


Precariat Financialization Universal basic income Class structure Class conflict Rentier capitalism Social contract 


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Copyright information

© Society for International Development 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SOASUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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