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The Global Disappearance of 'Decent Work'? 'Precarity', Exploitation and Work-Based Harms in the Neoliberal Era

Social Inclusion (Open Access Journal) with (In)Justice International


Adam Formby (University of Lincoln), Mustapha Sheikh (University of Leeds) and Bob Jeffrey (Sheffield Hallam University) as part of the (In)Justice International Collective


This issue is asking for papers that examine the nature of ‘global precarity’ and ones which reflect upon the process of the global commodification of labour and its impact on what constitutes ‘precarity’ for workers around the world: low-wages, insecure contracts, absence of training and progression, lack of status and exposure to a range of ‘work-based harms’ (Scott, 2017).  As global labour commodification has been accelerated and neoliberal employment policy has stripped away legislative and regulatory protections, a range of demographics have been rendered increasingly insecure, ‘precarious’ and disposable. This ranges from migrants and ethnic minorities, where varying citizenship statuses and structural racism may relegate them to the fringes of the labour market, to young people, who may also face ineligibility for support mechanisms, a lack of opportunities and increasingly fractured and fragmented transitions into work.


Moreover, a lack of appropriate social policy responses to contemporary global challenges to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 onwards, Covid-19 and post-pandemic inflationary pressures exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, ongoing neo-colonialism and climate change means that a variety of groups have faced increasingly uncertain futures. 


We acknowledge that there is nothing new about ‘precarity’; the so-called ‘standard employment contract’ that accompanied the shift to social democracy only existed for a few brief decades in the Global North in the aftermath of the Second World War, and even then women and migrants were largely excluded (Hardy, 2021). Nevertheless, the diffusion of neoliberal politics centred on deregulation, privatisation and ‘responsibilisation’ has, to a significant degree, unpicked the security that existed for some workers in the Global North while leading (in combination with neo-colonialism) to greater informalisation, hyper exploitation and outward migration in the Global South. Younger, ethnic minority, migrant and working-class people are disproportionately exposed to such processes, relegated to ‘gig work’ or ‘bogus self-employment’, zero-hour and fixed-term contracts, insecure agency work or ‘off the books’ employment within the illegal economy. 


This call for papers is asking for global studies of the lived experience of precarity (linked to labour markets), with a particular focus on youth, ethnicity and migration status, gender and sexuality, disability, and class. Such analyses will be connected to questions of political economy (globalisation and ‘neoliberal statecraft’), the presence or absence of welfare systems that support people out of and into work, the vitality (or otherwise) of labour movements that are capable of organising, supporting, and defending workers, the role of technology in facilitating or inhibiting different forms of work, and the significance of culture and ideology in reproducing various workplace regimes.

We also encourage authors whose first language is not English to send in a copy of their manuscript in their Native language, to be made available through the (In)Justice International website. These manuscripts will form an informal companion to the official issue published by Social Inclusion: They will not undergo peer-review and are exempt from the journal’s article processing fee, but will not be included in the published volume. For more information, please contact Simon Prideaux (

Instructions for Authors: 

This thematic issue is the result of Social Inclusion’s partnership with research network (In)Justice International, who is also available to cover open access publication costs on a case-by-case basis. To know if you are eligible to have the APC covered by the network, please contact Simon Prideaux ( directly. Corresponding authors affiliated with our institutional members do not incur this fee. Authors interested in submitting a paper for this issue are asked to consult the journal's instructions for authors and submit their abstracts (maximum of 250 words, with a tentative title) through the abstracts system (here).

Open Access: 

The journal has an article publication fee to cover its costs and guarantee that the article can be accessed free of charge by any reader, anywhere in the world, regardless of affiliation. We defend that authors should not have to personally pay this fee and advise them to check with their institutions if funds are available to cover open access publication fees. Institutions can also join Cogitatio's Membership Program at a very affordable rate and enable all affiliated authors to publish without incurring any fees. For this thematic issue, (In)Justice International will also be available to cover open access publication costs on a case-by-case basis. To know if you are eligible to have the APC covered by the network, please contact Simon Prideaux ( directly. Further information about the journal's open access charges and institutional members can be found here.


Submission of Abstracts: 1-15 June 2023


Submission of Full Papers: 15-30 October 2023


Publication of the Issue: April/June 2024

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