A Genealogy of Precarity and Its Ambivalence


Focussing on the conceptual evolution of precarious labour over the past three decades, this essay provides a genealogy of the notion of precarity. On the eve of the fourth industrial revolution, when precarity has become the norm and fears of a jobless society have alimented a dystopian imaginary for the future, this historical reconstruction seeks to identify those elements that have shaped the material conditions of workers as well as influenced their capacity of endurance in times of growing uncertainty.

Francesca Coin

Made in China Summer School 2018

Florence, 9-13 July 

The second Made in China Summer School ‘Chinese Labourscapes: Transregional Perspectives on Work and Rights’, will be held at the CISL Study Centre in Florence, Italy, from 9 to 13 July 2018. This event will bring together prominent scholars from all over the world for a series of presentations and discussions with students, academics, trade unionists, and NGO activists. Apply before March 25!


No expertise comes without constant doubt and a willingness to challenge established truths. Chinoiresie represents our attempt to question some of today’s understandings and certainties about China. It blends the image of a ‘chinoiserie’—a foreign interpretation and imitation of Chinese artistic traditions, a term that over time has come to assume the meaning of a clichè, a stereotypical view of China—with the concept of ‘heresy’—an unorthodox view aimed at challenging a given truth.


Precarious Labour in Contemporary China

This issue includes a series of essays that examine different declinations of precarity experienced by Chinese workers. The contributions explore precarity from both conceptual and empirical points of view, focussing on aspects such as the nexus between precarious work and migration, the contentious relationship between precarity and class, new divisions of labour in the Chinese workplace, the consequences of layoffs in the state sector, and the fallout of the ongoing environmental crackdown.