Torsten Geelan

Sociological research on trade unions, media power and just transitions

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The Academic Precariat

Danish Sociology, 28 (2): 27-51

Theories of social class have traditionally described highly educated people as a privileged group in society. However in the past decade several studies of the academic labour market in Europe have shown that precarious forms of employment are becoming increasingly common. This article assesses the extent to which Guy Standing’s perspective on class and precariat is a fruitful way of understanding labour market differentiation among university graduates. It applies multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) to data from the European Social Survey (ESS) to analyse five of Standing’s seven forms of labour market insecurity in relation to the Danish labour market. Four idealtype labour market positions are identified. These show substantial differences between university graduates from different academic fields. The article concludes by discussing the relationship between precarious employment and life-course trajectories.

Torsten Geelan, Magnus Skovrind Pedersen and Malthe Øland Ribe