Not all experiences of precarious work lead to precarity: the case study of young people at university and their welfare mixes

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The concept of precarity has gained momentum and challenges social scientists to consider the effects of labour-market insecurity across classes and welfare arrangements. This article discusses the varieties of experiences of precarious work by young people in university and identifies in which cases they are also experiences precarity. It is one of the first studies of its kind to investigate the material triggers of inequality by comparing young people’s experiences across countries (England, Italy and Sweden) and by looking at the welfare mixes available to young people who are working at university. Through a comparative qualitative research involving young people from different socio-economic backgrounds and ‘welfare mixes’, the article shows that experiences of precarity concern a minority of young people who have an absolute necessity to rely on labour-market sources, due to the lack or insufficiency of state support and family sources. It also identifies: a group of young people who feel pressure to get precarious jobs to fill a decline in family resources; and a convenient use of precarious jobs suiting the circumstances of young people with abundant family resources. Overall, the research found that precarity is deeply connected to young people’s welfare mixes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalJournal of Youth Studies
Early online date3 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Jan 2018


  • precarity , inequality , welfare , family , higher education , class