Chapter 8: Between precariousness and freedom: the ambivalent condition of independent professionals in Italy
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The chapter deals with the ambiguous condition of independent professionals entrapped between a growing insecurity and the desire to experiment their professional freedom. In the first part of the chapter the outline of a changing landscape of self-employment in Italy – with a focus on independent professionals – is provided by offering a historical overview, an analysis of the main labour reforms, and a statistical portrait. In the second part, based on a qualitative secondary analysis, four relevant characteristics of independent professionals are highlighted: the growing difficulty in defining successful professional careers; the ambivalence of autonomy that can lead to self-exploitation; the social protection gap in comparison with employees; the new interests of traditional and emerging organisations dealing with their collective representation. The risks connected to the ambivalent condition of being ‘precariously free’ are a challenge both for the new generation of independent professionals and for the organisational and institutional actors aimed at regulating and protecting this category of workers.

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