Precarious Work and Communities: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Working Class Politics
Precarious work, which refers to work that is poorly paid, lacks benefits, and where workers have relatively little political power, has been on the rise in North America in the last few decades. If precarious workers are isolated and unengaged, they will not be able to represent their political needs. The goal of this research is to clarify the relationship between precarious work and levels of community engagement and social support. Using feminist political economy and hegemony perspectives, this project engages with the question of whether precarious work has a direct impact on community engagement and social support and how demographic variables moderate this relationship. A quantitative analysis of 2014 telephone survey data done by the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario project demonstrates the effect of precarious work. Results show that precarious work has a large significant negative effect on social support but an inconsistent impact on community engagement. I conclude that more information is needed about participation in extra-parliamentary activities to fully understand whether precarious workers suffer from lack of political representation. However, precarious workers are clearly more isolated than other workers and this may contribute to continued intergenerational precarity.