Precariat refers to groups of people who previously had been known as the casual poor, that is, workers who have no control over their destiny and depend on the goodwill of others. Precarious employment relations are temporary, involving jobs that last a day, a week, or a few months at most. In this short essay Marcel van der Linden discusses the definition of precarious labor, its long history, its decline and rise in the advanced capitalist countries after World II, its growth in the global South, and its problematic relationship with organized labor.

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