The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies
The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies
Author: Julián Torres Roa (Col)
In a historical moment in which the borders are broken (symbolically speaking), the
influences of individuals, groups, movements, ideas or policies generate new types of
interactions in different realities. Few democracies conditions differ from each other;
and one of the few differences are the “working conditions” that are part and build the
industries in each country.
In the less advanced industrial democracies, industry survives based on labor conditions
are no longer considered "crisis" to assume as everyday realities. In contrast, in the
advanced industrial democracies, these same conditions re-acquire its dimension of
"crisis" because it is not planned within their public police; one aspect which so far is
making visible it`s existence.
With this short introduction I wanted to start this paper, stating that the working
conditions (such as common element between industrialized and non industrialized
democracies) is not a factor sudden or born as a reaction to the management of a “new”
public policy (ies). It has been always there, except that for democracies is more
"normal" to live with than with the other.
From this context and before talking about the theory of Insiders / Outsiders and how
they shape the Precariat, is necessary to define what is “work” and their conceptual
variations to understand how useful (if useful) within the industrialized democracies.
Based on the concepts presented by Desmond King and David Rueda (2008) in his
article "Cheap Labor: The New Politics of" Bread and Roses "in Industrial
Democracies”, I find that two types of work: standard and non standard.
Referring to the non-standard labors , I understand them from the description given by
the authors King & Rueda as when they mention are those who "includes jobs with
temporary and part-time contracts” (King and Rueda 2008).
To expand the concept, taking as reference the definition given by the International
Labour Office when described as all kind of works "that falls outside the scope of a
standard employment relationship, which itself is understood as being work that is full-
time, indefinite employment in a subordinate employment relationship” (International
Labour Office, Geneva, 2015).
On the contrary, referring to the Standard labors I conceptualize them based on the
description as "what the OECD calls" regular jobs "(ie, non-temporary jobs with part
time non- Contracts)" (King, D., & Rueda, D., 2008).
Consequently, a new category is pretend by authors named "Cheap Work" and that may
be applicable to both types of work previously: Low Pay in Standard Employment, Low
Protection in Standard Employment and Cheap Labor in Nonstandard Employment (the
latter being the case more serious because low income without any protection for
It is in this scenario where Rueda gives a new component to the game board to define
the concepts of Insiders / Outsiders. Speaking of the latter, I approach its meaning as a
way "to define a pool of cheap labor Whose members share three Characteristics: low
levels of pay, low levels of employment protection, if any; and low levels of benefits, if
any” (Rueda, 2005), with the caveat that this type of work is within the category of non-
In contrast, when talking about the Insiders, the author refers to those who do not
belong to the group of Outsiders. That is, those who fall within the category of Labor
Standard in any of its three variations Normal Standard Employment Pay, Low Pay in
Standard or Low Protection in Employment Employment Standard.
Finally, the author proposes a series of conceptual bridges between concepts that fails to
deepen beyond its mere mention. This is the case of relations existing between the
concepts of Insiders and Outsiders or Labors Standard and Non-Standard Labors; a
dichotomy between local citizens and foreigners, assuming the outsiders as a threat to
the stability and sustainability of the welfare states of industrially developed democratic
Lastly, it is due to the situation described that can link to this "threat group" of stability
who enjoy (lucky if they have no tradition in society) of a Standard-Labor with the birth
of a new class in the contemporary society; the Precariat.
Conceptually, the "Precariat" refers to a new class made up of people who have a
condition of existence without predictability and security in the medium and long term
type. As it is referenced in the text "The Precariat-The new dangerous class" author
Guy Standing (2014):
"A proletarian class of industrial workers who lack their own means of
production and therefore sell its workforce to live" (...) "a concept applies to the
condition of lack of job security, ie , intermittent employment or
This sequence of concepts are useful to understand what, as explained in the
introduction to this work, has existed in other parts of the world but it begins to be more
relevant in the industry advanced democracies.
Mainly, it helps to describe a reality that has been evolving for years and has ceased to
be absolute (ie, black or white) and started taking into account the nuances between one
position and another.
Namely in this case in particular, the different ways of working, different forms of the
welfare state depending on the types of work and different working conditions (in law
and beyond) that are “between the lines” when we talk about levels of quality of life and
employability in industry advanced democracies.
The understanding of the issues proposed by both theory Insiders / Outsiders as in the
Precariat, leading contemporary political stop thinking too distant ideals, to invite them
to reflect on the present reality of a globalized world; applies equally in political terms
as so in social and economic terms.
Thus, public policies are able to avoid the reactive actions (faint responses to a coming
crisis) to be located in the reflective and planning actions that allow them to adapt their
industrially advanced democracies regulations and plans - rigid and idealistic - in some
with greater adaptability taking into account the global dynamics and migration trends.
Must be borne in mind that the dynamics generated from the condition of "Precariat"
and Outsiders are not static. They are dynamic and constantly evolving with increasing
Because of this situation, it is also appropriate to stop observing the situation through
the eyes of the states with industrialized democracies to see them through the lens
sufferers of this reality. Based on the previous argument, it is worth proposing a new
way of looking at the situation from a purely political perspective as a reaction or
response to a series of public policies (such as labor flexibility), to observe them with a
largely causal approach or contexts social and economic.
A problem of "political dimensions" has different variables that affect their
development and adaptation to changing situations.
Thus, a subject like Precariat belongs not only to the political sphere (in overall
regulation of specific situations), but is highly influenced by economic pressures to
bring this condition: confrontation between the interests of Insiders and Outsiders,
questioning and cessation of confidence in democracy as a guarantor of protection of
individual and group rights, speculation among the rights and duties of foreigners - legal
or illegal - to local citizens, business closures and their transfer to industrial
democracies less advanced fewer regulations that require them to operate, etc.
In turn, these economic influences become social tensions that could stoke nationalist,
xenophobic or rejection feelings for ending conflict not only with human components
but with legal aspects (international agreements) and again with a political dimension
incapable of operate effectively.
With this list of situations I wanted to state with the aim to articulate (or propose
through this work) a new understanding of the conflicts generated from particular
situations, such as working conditions and work in industrialized democracies, not focus
only on the political dimension of the conflict, but that is addressed in a coordinated
manner with the other proposed dimensions.
This proposal with the purpose of not only reacts to a situation, but to be in the ability to
understand (not just at the time when the situations arise) early enough to reflect and
propose plans reaction multidisciplinary (political, economic and / or social) that would
not only cushion the consequences, but avoid them or turn them into opportunities1.
To conclude, I believe that both theories still has much to embrace change and different
aspects for pointing (at most, referring to chapters read to this class).
Firstly, concept like those presented in the “Precariat”, or the separation between
Insiders and Outsiders are shown as problems into closed societies, assuming that there
are still closed societies.
Disregarding the new forms of interaction between the societies and the exchange of
symbolic values of the “citizens of the world 2”.
Hence, the situations presented, product of working conditions and types of work are
considered as unknown realities, feared and rejected in the democracies with developed
industry (or not placed on the public stage as a latent reality) but outside them, reside in
a normal situation.
Second, both texts through their concepts, tend to assume that the human elements from
outside the borders of the industrialized democracies are a threat to the internal stability
of the country, which allows us to infer that closed societies, perfect in their social,
political and economic operation can only be destabilized if and only if there is an
external agent to be adjusted.
In this view, once again, I understand the industrialized democracies that function as a
bubble surrounded with outside world realities which as stated earlier, I consider myself
a conceptual or lack of precision mistake.
And finally, I believe that the division between Insiders / Outsiders as agents involved
in the formation of the “Precariat” is too general and trends towards polarization of
Labor dynamics within industrially advanced democracies are not unrelated to "Cheap
Work" in any form, so ensure that the problem is only focused on the Outsiders is a
mistake; it isnot a situation that is imported from other places, but has evolved from
within itself and becomes visible mostly with the foreigners.
In short, any person whether domestic or foreign, can be considered Insider / Outsider
and any Insider / Outsider is eligible for the "CheapWork" and therefore, as part of a
“Precariat” but its cradle in Democracy industrialized.
Rueda, D. (2005). Insider–outsider politics in industrialized democracies: the challenge
to social democratic parties. American Political Science Review, 99(01), 61-74.
Standing, Guy. "The Precariat-The new dangerous class." Amalgam-časopis studenata
sociologije 6.6-7 (2014): 115-119.
King, D., & Rueda, D. (2008). Cheap labor: the new politics of “bread and roses” in
industrial democracies. Perspectives on Politics, 6(02), 279-297.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR OFFICE, GENEVA, (2015). Non-standard forms of
employment. Report for discussion at the Meeting of Experts on Non-Standard
Forms of Employment. [online] Geneva: International Labour Organization
2015, pp.1 -3. Available at: http:// www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---
[Accessed 27 Nov. 2015].
1 economic dimensions we can find in Australia; country that has historically
invited young people around the world to settle there as nationals, legally and
officially supported in the process, to boost its economy and constantly renew
their partnership, having planned control mechanisms in migratory movements.
2 Based on that phrase by Seneca (4 BC - 65 AD) "I was not born in one corner,
my homeland is the whole world."
Torres Roa Julián. (2016, Agosto 5). The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies. Recuperado de https://www.gestiopolis.com/the-precariat-insideroutsider-in-industrialized-democracies/
Torres Roa, Julián. "The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies". GestioPolis. 5 Agosto 2016. Web. <https://www.gestiopolis.com/the-precariat-insideroutsider-in-industrialized-democracies/>.
Torres Roa, Julián. "The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies". GestioPolis. Agosto 5, 2016. Consultado el 26 de Mayo de 2017. https://www.gestiopolis.com/the-precariat-insideroutsider-in-industrialized-democracies/.
Torres Roa, Julián. The Precariat & Insider/Outsider in Industrialized Democracies [en línea]. <https://www.gestiopolis.com/the-precariat-insideroutsider-in-industrialized-democracies/> [Citado el 26 de Mayo de 2017].
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