Edited by Ola Bergström and Donald Storrie
Chapter 2: Beyond atypicality
2. Beyond atypicality Ola Bergström1 There is no such thing as a common form of contingent employment. Legal deﬁnitions vary among countries. The phenomenon is labelled diﬀerently, depending on the perspective from which it is regarded: from the point of view of employers, workers, trade unions, governments and so on. Moreover, in academic literature the phenomenon is characterized in diﬀerent ways according to the disciplinary perspective of the author. However, the most common element regarding contingent employment is that it is often referred to as diﬀerent, atypical, alternative or non-standard. This chapter takes the view that contingent employment has its own character that should be understood in its own terms. Classifying contingent workers as atypical may be accurate considering the incidence in the labour market, but the classiﬁcation of workers as atypical also has social consequences. Contingent workers are often regarded as having less value and in practice they are often provided with worse working conditions, salaries and beneﬁts. They also have fewer opportunities to inﬂuence, aﬀect working conditions and have their voice heard. Thus the classiﬁcation of workers as atypical has eﬀects on the way contingent workers are treated in workplaces, among co-workers, by trade unions and in labour law. Therefore there is a need to look for new ways of conceptualizing contingent employment beyond atypicality. Contingent employment relationships are diﬀerent from traditional employment relationships in at least two ways. First, contingent employment relationships mean that both...
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