Is the Precariat a Class?


  • Erik Olin Wright University of Wisconsin



Precariousness is a pervasive and increasing condition of life in both the developed and less developed regions of the world. Guy Standing has proposed a reconceptualisation of these trends from precarity as a condition to the precariat as a class distinct from the working class. This article presents a Marxist critique of this reconceptualisation on two principle grounds: first, that the material interests of people in the precariat and in the working class are not sufficiently opposed to each other for these to constitute two distinct classes; and second, that across the various segments of the precariat the optimal strategies for securing a livelihood are not sufficiently unified for the precariat as a whole to constitute a class.