Global Labour Flexibility

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What models of distributive justice can the twenty-first century promote to challenge the spread of insecurity, inequality, and social fragmentation? The 20th century was dominated by competition between two labor models of society--state socialism and welfare state capitalism, which promoted forms of labor security. Since the 1970s, globalization and flexible labor markets have increased insecurity and inequalities. After a period dominated by libertarianism, politicians and social thinkers must find ways of promoting distributive justice, based on basic security and new forms of voice representation and regulation. Dismissing the approach of the "new paternalists," this book presents a new vision combining security of income and representation without moralistic state control.

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Editorial Reviews

A senior economist with the International Labor Office in Geneva develops a perspective for a work-based strategy for distributive justice, recognizing that globalization, technological change, and the growth of flexible labor markets around the world have fundamentally changed the feasible institutional structures. The framework for his analysis and policy proposals is inspired by the work of Karl Polanyi. The five parts can be read independently. They cover conceptualizing global labor, the sirens of flexibility, the rocks of insecurity, laborist options, and an agenda for the future. He assumes no knowledge of economics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312225254
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 9/4/1999
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 459
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Guy Standing is Senior Economist for International Labour Office, Geneva, Switzerland.

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Table of Contents

Part I: Conceptualizing Global Labour
• Of Work, Labour, and Employment
• Status, Control, and Contrast
Part II: The Sirens of Flexibility
• The Pursuit of Flexibility
• The Renewed Growth of Labour Flexibility
Part III: The Rocks of Insecurity
• The Crumbling of Labour Market Security
• Insecurity in Employment
• Income
• Social Protection, Fragmentation, and Detachment
Part IV: Labourist Options
• Minimum Wages, Subsidies, and Tax Credits
• The Road to Workfare
Part V: Shadow of the Future
• News from Somewhere: A Redistributive Agenda
• Labour Control and Modes of Resistance

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