Κάλεσμα

Precarious Changes: Gender and Generational Politics in Contemporary Italy

Περίληψη

The issue of a generational exchange in Italian feminism has been crucial over the last decade. Current struggles over precariousness have revived issues previously raised by feminists of the 1970s, recalling how old forms of instability and precarious employment are still present in Italy. This essay starts from the assumption that precariousness is a constitutive aspect of many young Italian women’s lives. Young Italian feminist scholars have been discussing the effects of such precarity on their generation. This article analyses the literature produced by political groups of young scholars interested in gender and feminism connected to debates on labour and power in contemporary Italy. One of the most successful strategies that younger feminists have used to gain visibility has involved entering current debates on precariousness, thus forcing a connection with the larger Italian labour movement. In doing so, this new wave of feminism has destabilized the universalism assumed by the 1970s generation. By pointing to a necessary generational change, younger feminists have been able to mark their own specificity and point to exploitative power dynamics within feminist groups, as well as in the family and in the workplace without being dismissed. In such a layered context, many young feminists argue that precariousness is a life condition, not just the effect of job market flexibility and not solely negative. The literature produced by young feminists addresses the current strategies engineered to make ‘their’ precarious life more sustainable. This essay analyses such strategies in the light of contemporary Italian politics. The main conclusion is that younger Italian women’s experience requires new strategies and tools for struggle, considering that the visibility of women as political subjects is still quite minimal. Female precariousness can be seen as a fruitful starting point for a dialogue across differences, addressing gender and reproduction, immigration, work and social welfare at the same time.

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A Different Precarity: Gender and Generational Conflicts in Contemporary Italy

Περίληψη

In this decade, especially in the last five years, European social movements have developed increasingly on the issue of flexibilization of labor. These movements are clearly a response to neo-liberalization and the reduction of welfare and the so–called “social rights” acquired, after intense struggle, by citizens of the industrialized countries during the 20th century (Hobsbawn, Piven and Cloward). In Italy in particular, several new laws and tax measures passed over this period have transformed the workplace both qualitatively and quantitatively, particularly through the proliferation of temp-agencies and new types of short-term contracts. While a number of books and research have focused on how these shifts have impacted the workforce in general (Tiddi, Zanini, Chaincrew, Accornero), a gendered approach is uncommon and underdeveloped (Allegrini 2005). By bringing gender into the analysis of precarity, I intend to address its multiple dimensions, especially the aspects of precarity that impact everyday life and social reproduction. This approach stems from previous traditions of feminist research and aims to avoid any reductionist equation of precariousness as simply a dreadful condition of labor *1. By analyzing the emerging discourses in the new precarity movement, I intend to provide here some useful insights, eventhough any analysis of such a recently born movement can not provide but a specific depiction of concrete cases. My analysis is centered around the ideas of gender and generations, as two important dimensions defining the emerging movement.

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