Shifting the boundaries of work, or how to get out of the opposition workers versus unemployed


Qhat do the social sciences tell us about the rhetorical opposition that is spreading from right to left between unemployment and work? That the opposition between “assisted receiving allowances” and " workers " obscures the long history of workers' struggles that have provided safety nets through insurance and assistance against the loss of one's job or the impossibility of finding one. The histories of salaried work, unemployment insurance and social minima are intrinsically linked, marked by a very strong conflict between supporters of the freedom of the market and capital and the labor movement. The "allocs" are actually a conquest, obtained since the 19the century, making it possible to counterbalance the intrinsically unequal relationship at the heart of salaried work. They are part of a socialized social protection system, financed by social security contributions and taxes, which opens up rights rather than relying solely on the charity of the wealthy. This is what countless works in the social sciences remind us of.

Once is not custom, current events oblige, I thus approach in this Carte blanche a subject directly in connection with my own research works. Beyond the historical amnesia, the reappearance of this work/unemployment opposition on the front of the political and media scene implies that the unemployed and those who receive “benefits” do not work. Here again, the social sciences have been deconstructing this idea for more than fifty years. As number 32 recalls of the magazine Plotspublished in 2017, and to which I contributed with my co-authors, it should be “shifting the boundaries of work”leaving the confusion made between employment – ​​salaried or self-employed – and work, a confusion established since the 19e century under the combined effect of the industrial revolutions and the spread of wage labor. Indeed, wage labor is not " all the work "and goods and services are produced for others in many social spaces, often unpaid.

Acknowledge all work

It is first by speaking of " domestic work ", to qualify the activity of housewives, which sociologists and economists have made visible since the 1970s the massive and intensive nature of this work, but also its centrality in feeding the ranks of the wage earner - through the care given to employed spouses and to children likely to become so. Learning and transmission of know-how, specific knowledge, division of labor, specialization and hierarchy, exploitation, reputation, production... As many features of salaried work common to multiple forms of work as those who perform them, or who benefit from them , rarely recognize as "real work" domestic work, therefore, but also voluntary work, militant work, parental work, care

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