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Memoria e Ricerca

Precarious work as a historical phenomenon: a gender approach. Plemiminary considerations on metodology and historiography

di Eloisa Betti
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 46 (2014), p. 151

Precarious work is an highly controversial topic in the contemporary debate. Its political and economic implications are discussed at national, European and global level by different international institutions such as the International Labour Organsation. This contribution wants to elaborate on the phenonenon of precarious work from a gender perspective. It analyses the academic debate on the nexus between gender and precariousness which has developed in the historical and social sciences over the past 40 years. Adopting this interdisciplinary – gender and historical – perspective, this contribution presents precariousness as a historical phenomenon, present in industrial capitalism since the earliest stages of its development. Accordingly, comparing conditions of work in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with those prevailing in the twenty years of the system’s greatest economic growth (1950-1970), it demonstrates that female job precariousness is not a recent phenomenon but a longue durée process within industrial capitalism. Keywords: Precarious work, History of capitalism, Gender, Women’s Labour, Fordism and Post-fordism, Flexibility