Navigating the Scylla and Charybdis of Precarious Work: Through the Storm of Contingency

  • Christian Garland


Marx contended that the Capital–Labor relation is massively and structurally unequal; the former feeding vampire-like off the latter. This chapter contends that—in keeping with the original thesis of Capital—the increasing social reality of “precariousness” or “contingency” work, while becoming that much scarcer and insecure, remains the major form of social reproduction in contemporary society, necessarily remaining the major means for material subsistence for a majority of its members. This chapter aims to contribute to a critical theory of “flexibility”/precarity informed by Marx’s own critical theory of the Capital–Labor relation which it also argues is mystified by the ideology which aims to present such conditions as their opposite. The effort to define and articulate a critical theory of precarious or contingent labor is best served by Capital and its original recognition that the material terms of existence—work, or employment—remain the primary social determinant in social reproduction itself.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Garland
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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