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Catch me if you can - Configurations of atypical and precarious employment in Switzerland

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Bühlmann,
Project SWISS HOUSEHOLD PANEL - 2012 - 2013
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Espace, populations, sociétés
Page(s) 73 - 90
Title of proceedings Espace, populations, sociétés


A typical and precarious employment has become an increasingly important issue in the last 30 years. However, atypical employment includes very heterogeneous forms of work and is difficult to capture empirically. In this paper we propose a configurational approach in order to overcome these difficulties. We conceptualise the labour market as a field and investigate the data of the 2004 sweep of the Swiss Household Panel with a multiple correspondence analysis. We discover four configurations of atypical work and then relate these configurations to possible explanatory factors and possible consequences. Our findings show that in Switzerland only one, very specific configuration of atypical employment leads to social suffering and vulnerability: jobs that combine the absence of biographical prospects, forced flexibility and low wages. Other atypically employed fractions use their specific resources to deploy compensation strategies which render atypical employment socially bearable.