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Justice and Non-Standard Work

Convenors:

Iñigo González-Ricoy (University of Barcelona)

Luke Newberry (Pompeu Fabra University)

Jahel Queralt (Pompeu Fabra University)

within the remit of the research project Justice and Work: A Normative Analysis of Nonstandard Forms of Employment, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science.

Keynote speakers: Jurgen de Wispelaere and Virginia Mantouvalou

Submission deadline: May 14, 2021


Contemporary philosophizing about work has largely focused on the standard employment relationship—work that is continuous, full-time, with a direct relationship between employer and employee, typically within the premises of the employer, and that offers workers a clear career pattern over the lifecycle. This workshop seeks to inspect, by contrast, nonstandard employment relations, including part-time, multi-party, and “gig” work as well as dependent, independent, and informal self-employment. Nonstandard forms of work—some of which are on the rise in wealthy economies, often in precarious conditions, and that together account for more than half of the global workforce (ILO 2017; OECD 2018; Chen 2019)—raise a host of question about their distinctive nature, normative standing, and suitable regulation, which this workshop seeks to explore.

One set of questions addresses the nature of nonstandard employment. What are the distinctive features of each of these forms of work? What exactly is new and what old in platform and on-demand work? Does self-employment require independence, authority to hire and dismiss staff, and having more than one client, as some courts have recently ruled? Do nonstandard workers form a new class—the precariat—as some argue? Should the informal self-employed in poor economies be conceived of as “plucky entrepreneurs,” as some have claimed? Is informal self-employment driven by choice or by necessity?

Other questions are normative. Which benefits and wrongs, and under which conditions, do each form of nonstandard employment entails? Do gig work or self-employment yield more flexibility, independence, or productive efficiency? Or do they upset working certainty, income security, and personal autonomy? How do liberal, libertarian, Marxist, republican, and feminist theories of justice bear on nonstandard forms of work and their uneven allocation across gender, class, or migrant status?

The workshop also seeks to explore questions about the appropriate regulation of nonstandard work. Should gig workers be classified as independent contractors, as disguised employees, or as a separate category? Should stronger economic liberties be secured for the informal self-employed in developing economies or should governments seek to instead increase the opportunities for wage work? What is the appropriate response to the growing polarization of work in wealthy economies? Is a strengthened right to exit, perhaps including a UBI, a fitting and legitimate response to nonstandard relations that may be exploitative or abusive? How could traditional means to advance workers’ interests, such as collective bargaining or the right to strike, be updated to suitably adapt to atypical forms of employment?

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Abstracts of 500 words on these and related themes should be sent to jahel.queralt@upf.edu by May 14. Those whose abstracts are selected will be notified one week after the deadline. The workshop will be online, and we will be flexible to accommodate speakers from different time zones. Alongside your abstract, please let us know your time zone as well as the dates, if any, that you would be unable to attend within the workshop’s provisional dates range.

This year’s fees are:

academics: £45; graduate students, retirees, and unaffiliated attendees:

£20; nonspeaker/nonpresenting attendees:

£15. A small number of bursaries (for graduate students only) are available.

Please state in your application to our panel whether you intend to apply for a bursary.

September 7-10, 2021