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= ‘Labourism’ equates work with formal paid employment.

See for contrast: Precarity


The End of Labourism

by Peter Hall-Jones, November 2009:

"Seeing all this as part of a single phenomenon – the end of labourism – is an option which many of us might not like to consider. We have assumed that there is a ‘typical’ mode of working – a template from which we are slowly departing. The venerable Eurofound described this standard as: “full-time, regular, open-ended employment with a single employer over a long time span. …with standard working hours guaranteeing a regular income and, via social security systems geared towards wage earners, securing pension payments and protection against ill-health and unemployment.

In fact, this standard model is more like a 20th century anomaly. Nor did it ever really secure global dominance. Although it was central to policy-making and industrial relations, it is doubtful that it was ever really the dominant mode of work.

‘Labourism’ equates work with formal paid employment. Our rights, social benefits, labour laws and unions have been shaped around this model, and the assumptions that went with it As a result, care workers and own-account workers were marginalised in the 20th century. Labourism is also at the heart of our difficulty in understanding the precariat. The many faces of the phenomenon make it seem nebulous to us, difficult to define and discuss, and almost impossible to strategise around. We have become so convinced that labourism is the natural regime that we can only assume that we ought to be turning “atypical” workers into “typical” ones. This is the guiding spirit behind the ILO’s ‘Decent Work’ campaign.

The standard model is also crumbling from within. Much has been written elsewhere about how the ‘job for life’ has become a thing of the past. By way of a single example, in the US younger baby boomers have held an average of 10.8 jobs from ages 18 to 42[xxi]. Even ‘typical’ employment is becoming insecure. The precariat is becoming the rule, not the exception.

This is the problem with the global campaign for ‘Decent Work’. It is like earlier campaigns for ‘the right to work’. It is an admirable sentiment, and it deserves all our support, but we need not be under any illusions. Rights don’t make a lot of sense unless someone somewhere has corresponding duties.[xxii]

The labourist model is a thing of the past. Today, if we were to tote up the world’s precariat, care workers, own account workers, unemployed, subsistence farmers and ‘detached’ workers, we would have to admit that most of the world’s workers represent a round peg being forced into a square hole." (