Young people and the labour market: interrogating the idea of a precariat

Youth Research Centre Seminar Series 2016

Professor Andy Furlong, Dean, Research, College of Social Science, Professor of Social Inclusion and Education, University of Glasgow, and Honorary Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne

Facilitated by Dr Dan Woodman, School of Social and Political Sciences, Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne.

This seminar will draw on evidence from a recently completed project, ’The making of the Precariat: Unemployment, Insecurity and Work Poor Young Adults in Harsh Economic Conditions’, that investigated the relevance of the idea of a precariat for understanding young people's experiences in the labour market. Contrasting contemporary experiences with those experienced by young people in the 1980s recession, Professor Furlong argues that changes in patterns of security have deep roots and that the Global recession of 2008/09 largely accelerated existing trends. While there are certain merits in the precariat thesis for understanding modern conditions, it is argued that there has been a tendency to over-simplify the process which is far more nuanced than presented by key commentators such as Guy Standing. A new model of the labour market is presented in order to avoid presenting disadvantage as a democratised process.


Professor Andy Furlong

Andy Furlong is Dean for Research in the College of Social Science and Professor of Social Inclusion and Education at the University of Glasgow and Honorary Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. Andy’s interests are focused on young people and social change with an emphasis on transitions from education to work and in young people’s experiences in rapidly changing labour markets. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science and editor in chief of the Journal of Youth Studies, has acted as a consultant to the United Nations on global youth employment and has served on the Methods and Infrastructure Committee of the UK Economic and Social Research Oxford Council.