CFA, Special Issue of International Labor and Working-Class History–Joel Stillerman

Call for Abstracts: Precarious Labor in Global Perspective — A special issue of International Labor and Working-class History (ILWCH)

We invite abstracts for this ILWCH special issue focused on the dynamics and history of precarious work around the world in global context.  Definitions of precarious work vary, but a wide range of observers agree that in many settings jobs have become worse in terms of employment security, access to social benefits, and protection of labor rights.  This is especially true in the Global North, where the 1970s marked the beginning of a shift away from relatively stable postwar labor relations based on long-term employment (along with highly gendered employment patterns) and a developed welfare state.  Numerous analysts have explored these changes in work, including the International Labor Organization’s many publications on precarious and decent work; Arne Kalleberg in Good Jobs, Bad Jobs; Tony Avirgan et al. in Good Jobs, Bad Jobs, No Jobs, Françoise Carré et al. in Are Bad Jobs Inevitable?; and many others.

We seek articles that examine the dynamics and history of precarious work, focused on where, how, and why it has emerged, how contemporary precarious work differs (or not) from earlier low quality and unstable work (including work in the Global North before the Fordist era), the link between precariousness and long-term changes such as globalization and neoliberalism, as well as whether and how shorter-term effects such as the recent global slowdown have altered work’s character.  Our goal is to include analyses from around the world and different eras that place precarious work in a global historical context.  In addition to analyses from the Global North, we especially welcome studies from the Global South, NICs, BRICs, transitional economies, and others, including cases where precarious work may be receding due to economic, social, and political change.  We are particularly interested in articles, including comparative ones, that examine connections between precariousness and changes in the global division of labor, forms of business organization, configuration of geopolitics, and immigration flows, as well as counter-movements of regulation and resistance. Though changes in public sector employment are noteworthy in many countries, we will limit our attention to the private sector to sharpen the issue’s focus.

Possible topics for articles include, but are not limited to, the following themes:

·         How the shift of industrial activity to new locales, and from integrated production to global supply chains, has reshaped the quality of work around the world vs. earlier industrialization.

·         Precariousness in growing service sector industries (both low-skill and professional), including how it differs from earlier precariousness, how it varies around the world, and why.

·         Precarious work in agriculture and other primary sectors, including how commodities booms, migration, trade integration, and other processes have shaped these changes

·         Mechanisms separating and stratifying precarious work from decent work, and sorting workforce populations between one and the other.

·         Top-down and bottom-up strategies and struggles to intensify precariousness and exploitation or, conversely, to reverse, limit, or transform precariousness.

·         Comparisons of companies, sectors, or countries with regard to these and other topics.

Prospective authors should send a letter and an abstract of no more than 500 words of work they wish to submit to the journal. Editors will determine whether the proposed work fits thematically in an upcoming issue. The deadline for abstracts is June 1, 2014.  Style and submission guidelines will be sent to authors whose work the editors wish to review.

Send correspondence to:

Editor, International Labor and Working-Class History

c/o The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies
SUNY Empire State College
325 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013

or via e-mail to:,