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De-structuring or Re-structuring of the Labour Market?
Unformatted Document Text:  2 1 Introduction In most western societies the historical period between the 1970s and the 1990s was espe- cially linked with various far reaching political, technological, economic and social changes (e.g. increasing labour market participation of women, educational expansion, changes in the organisation of production etc.). It is said that these fundamental changes were caused and/or forced by all-embracing trends called “globalisation” and “individualisation” (c.f. Beck and Beck-Gernsheim 2002). Since all these changes were accompanied by an increasing tertiarisa- tion the period between the 1970s and the 1990s could be characterised as the period of transi- tion from ‘old’ industrial to ‘new’ service society. At least for about 20 years the impact of this transition to service society on the life course of men and women is of special interest within Western sociology. In this respect, changing patterns of individual employment histories are of decisive importance for modern societies, not only because employment generates income as the main living resource but also because it constitutes a ‘meaning of life’ for most individuals. Many commentators start from the assumption of a long-established but now strengthening general trend towards a ‘high- velocity labour market’ that is increasingly shaping the ‘future of work’. In such a turbulent labour market, individual employment histories will, over time, become increasingly unpre- dictable and chaotic compared with those of the past (Rifkin 1995; Castells 1996; Sennett 1998; Bauman 1998). In addition, it is assumed that the old division between ‘core’ and ‘pe- ripheral’ workforces (Doeringer and Piore 1971; Sengenberger 1987) dissolves into general employment instability. The consequence of this process is said to be a levelling out of em- ployment opportunities and risks. Uncertainties that in industrial societies were unevenly distributed along clearly defined socio-economic demarcation lines are expected to become increasingly generalised. Today this ‘de-structuring process’ is hypothesised to be at a very advanced stage, as Bauman (1998: 77) has pointed out: “Nowadays we are all on the move”.

Authors: Erlinghagen, Marcel.
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2
1 Introduction
In most western societies the historical period between the 1970s and the 1990s was espe-
cially linked with various far reaching political, technological, economic and social changes
(e.g. increasing labour market participation of women, educational expansion, changes in the
organisation of production etc.). It is said that these fundamental changes were caused and/or
forced by all-embracing trends called “globalisation” and “individualisation” (c.f. Beck and
Beck-Gernsheim 2002). Since all these changes were accompanied by an increasing tertiarisa-
tion the period between the 1970s and the 1990s could be characterised as the period of transi-
tion from ‘old’ industrial to ‘new’ service society.
At least for about 20 years the impact of this transition to service society on the life course of
men and women is of special interest within Western sociology. In this respect, changing
patterns of individual employment histories are of decisive importance for modern societies,
not only because employment generates income as the main living resource but also because
it constitutes a ‘meaning of life’ for most individuals. Many commentators start from the
assumption of a long-established but now strengthening general trend towards a ‘high-
velocity labour market’ that is increasingly shaping the ‘future of work’. In such a turbulent
labour market, individual employment histories will, over time, become increasingly unpre-
dictable and chaotic compared with those of the past (Rifkin 1995; Castells 1996; Sennett
1998; Bauman 1998). In addition, it is assumed that the old division between ‘core’ and ‘pe-
ripheral’ workforces (Doeringer and Piore 1971; Sengenberger 1987) dissolves into general
employment instability. The consequence of this process is said to be a levelling out of em-
ployment opportunities and risks. Uncertainties that in industrial societies were unevenly
distributed along clearly defined socio-economic demarcation lines are expected to become
increasingly generalised. Today this ‘de-structuring process’ is hypothesised to be at a very
advanced stage, as Bauman (1998: 77) has pointed out: “Nowadays we are all on the move”.


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