About this Research Topic
Economic insecurity is a concept that has gained ground among scholars for its heuristic capacity to analyse some of the consequences of post-industrial transformation within Western advanced capitalist societies. It is a condition of sufferance experienced at the micro-level, by individuals and/or households, triggered by financial strain and difficulties in covering basic needs. As such, it relates to the risk of economic loss and the threat to slide into poverty. It nonetheless differs from poverty, since economic insecurity measures those states of harsh constraints that may or may not end up rendering one as poor. Economic insecurity thus relates to income volatility and the subsequent lack of confidence in one’s ability to support a decent standard of living now and in the future. Though a multifaceted phenomenon, it is associated often with unstable and insecure forms of employment, as well as with casual and informal work.
Relevant studies have shown a link between women’s labour market condition and the exposure to a condition of vulnerability determined by economic insecurity.
Nonetheless, this strand of research has remained relatively blind to gender issues. This is partly due to methodological reasons: most statistical analyses rely on household-level variables (i.e. EU SILC) that do not allow for critical explorations of the different experience lived by men and women. Additionally, women’s labour market situation and their segregation into involuntary non-standard employment or casual and informal work have not been sufficiently explored as mechanisms triggering towards economic insecurity. In turn, knowledge is limited on how labour market structures and employment patterns relate to gendered pathways to economic insecurity.
To this respect, considerable gaps in knowledge remain on the gendered effects of economic insecurity and non-standard employment in southern European countries. Southern Europe was most severely affected by the economic crisis, which has had profound effects on labour market and other institutions, putting a large proportion of the population in a state of permanent economic insecurity. Though in different and varying degrees, southern European countries have experienced increases in non-standard, casual and informal work that have changed the work and employment patterns of all individuals, more so of women. Coupled with changes in socio-economic policies, women’s large and often involuntary share in precarious forms of work and employment places women at a state of higher economic insecurity. This is particularly the case for women belonging in vulnerable groups in relation to intersecting aspects such as education, social class, single parenthood, ethnicity, migrant status, disability, and health among others.
Within this Research Topic, we call for papers that explore the intersections of economic insecurity, non-standard employment and gender. We use the term ‘intersection’ purposively: we specifically welcome research that adopts an intersectional analytical frame to investigate the proposed issues, by looking at what happens to women who are subject to multiple dimensions of disadvantage. As per intersectionality theory, gender, age, social class, ethnicity and other statuses are not only closely tied to each other but also cumulative over the life course. We are particularly interested in research that explores how the co-existence of multiple forms of disadvantage may accumulate and multiply vulnerability to economic insecurity, especially in southern European countries, where exposure to inequality of opportunity is (re)produced through gendered labour market conditions.
Some key questions we seek answers to in this context are:
• How can we better conceptualize economic insecurity from a gender perspective and through an intersectionality lens?
• How does the experience of being women or men intersect with generations and migrant background in explaining a condition of economic insecurity?
• How do precarious forms of work and employment, such as non-standard, casual and informal work, relate to gendered patterns towards economic insecurity?
• What are the mechanisms that (re)produce gendered employment patterns and gendered pathways to economic insecurity in Southern Europe?
• How do broader welfare, economic and labour market systems in southern Europe relate to the (re)production of employment disadvantage for vulnerable groups of workers?
• How and to what degree does the southern European model exhibit differences within, producing different outcomes in regards to economic insecurity compared to other welfare systems?
• How do geographical inequalities within and beyond southern Europe affect exposure to economic insecurity, poverty and vulnerability?
We welcome all approaches - theoretical and empirical, substantive and methodological, micro and macro, qualitative and quantitative, as well as geographically specific research.
Keywords: Economic insecurity, gender, intersectionality, Non-Standard employment, Southern Europe
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.