Centre for Applied Research on Business and Economics

The new discomforts of precarious workers: Wardrobe matter, insecurity and the temporality of calibration in dress work

Article

This article provides a study of precarisation through the lens of dress work: the mundane practice of dressing the body for work. Based on intimate in-depth wardrobe interviews and analyses of workers’ narratives about their dressing practices, we develop a perspective on what insecure work feels like for workers in the interactive services and creative industries.

We understand dress work as a materially mediated practice in which workers often aim to achieve a level of comfort: a state in which they are allowed to become less reflexive about their bodies. One of the ways in which precarisation makes itself known, we contend, is through the temporal logic of the interruption.

The temporality of zero-hours contracts and short-term, insecure labour interrupts the achievement of comfort as workers are not allowed the time to experience their work, colleagues and spaces. The discomfort and sometimes pain of insecurity of post-Fordist labour is thus felt on the body.

Reference van den Berg, M., & Vonk, L. (2020). The new discomforts of precarious workers: Wardrobe matter, insecurity and the temporality of calibration in dress work. The Sociological Review, 68(3), 574-589. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038026119892402

Publication date

May 2020

Author(s)

Marguerite van den Berg

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