Precarity, critical theory, domination, emancipatory politics

Document Type



This paper provides a review and discussion on the emancipatory potential of the notion of ‘precarity’. Since the 1980s, the notion of ‘precarity’ has been used increasingly by scholars and activists to account for variegated grievances. Specifically, it has been used to address issues related to the transformations of labour in the XXIst century: neoliberal reorganization of labour markets, increasing unavailability of stable jobs, increased personal debts, debilitating labour unions or the lack of accessible housing among other issues. However, beyond structural grievances voiced by everyday workers, precarity can also serve as an analytical tool to pin down socially induced suffering at the systemic level of capitalist social relations. Precarity thus provides not only an understanding of social suffering from specific features of working people’s employment in different sectors, industries, or with specific job contracts but also helps to grasp a fundamental feature of contemporary capitalism beyond labour markets and which cuts across class distinctions. It is thus a highly relevant task to scrutinize this notion and, as argued in this paper, take the politics of precarity seriously in the search for its emancipatory potential.




April 11, 2022


August 19, 2022