This study is based on a critical review of the academic literature around precarious work and family life mainly from the British and Italian contexts. These two contexts were selected as they share important similarities in the way parents in insecure jobs respond and recreate social life in the face of economic marginality, but they also share differences, especially gendered differences. While there is substantial research on job insecurity, its specific effects on people with caring responsibilities are less well documented, despite the fact that this part of society represents an important case to explore how ‘precarity’ may not be just an economic condition. Precarious work is understood here in terms of the exacerbation of the historical process of the commodification of labour, which is the social form associated with the ‘free-market economy’. This article proposes that the ‘commodity form’ of labour affects the private life of parents, because insecurity means having to continuously look for jobs and remain ‘employable’. Commodification of labour has an important part to play in explaining the social relations of people between paid work and care: this will constitute the central focus of this article, as the analysis of the literature will uncover social relations rather than ‘social structures’ or ‘institutional actors’.
- Job insecurity