own-account workers beyond the vulnerability and the venture

The Social Sciences tend to analyze own-account workers from a scheme of dual observation: On a pole they can be vulnerable workers, that obligation, they are in a situation lower. At the other pole they can be entrepreneurs, that by choice you are in a situation with great opportunities. The literature you choose between classify them into one of the poles, or raise that are divided into two, one on each pole: The account propistas with more resources, usually professionals, to the positive pole, and the other towards the negative pole.

The purpose of this entry (which summarizes the findings of part of my doctoral research dedicated to these workers) is to show that such a scheme of dual observation is inconvenient. Or better said, give two reasons why it is insufficient, and why it makes sense and it works.

The duality is internal, not external

A first element is that the difference between ‘precarious’ and ’entrepreneurs’ are not divided so much between different places as that is also a tension that is lived by all the workers. The complexity is internal to the subject, not only between subjects. In other words, there are elements of uncertainty and adverse in all own-account workers, and there are positive elements in all of them.

The results of the employment situation of own-account workers are relatively clear: At all levels of education, is presented as a bet risky escape constraints of paid employment. In all levels you can aspire to a better condition, but with a probability not less than to fail in it. But it is always a possibility. The results of the trajectories indicate to us that it is possible to consolidate as their own, that being something I can not give clear yes it is possible. And that possibility of consolidation (and be in a better situation at the end of the work cycle is that the wage earners) is present at several levels. The fact that the own account worker most paradigmatic are trades of average rating, in a labour market where there is a significant presence of trades of low rating, it does not cease to be relevant as an alternative. This situation of being an attractive alternative, but with risks, is something that occurs through different business situations, and is not so much something that divides segments as something that happens in all of them. The exception to this are the women who from time to time inserted in the labour market, which corresponds to a specific type of trajectory (the G3 in the body of the tesis9: it Is in them where this dynamic dual does not appear, but they appear doomed to a precarious}.

Subjectively, something similar happens. The positive elements (autonomy) and negative (uncertainty) are those for the various segments. Also the own professional living with uncertainty; the own-account non-professional can also enjoy the autonomy. Although you can vary the weight given to each element -either with more emphasis on the negative aspect as the positive-, the common thing is that we recognize both. There is only the subjective element that is clearly oriented from the observation dual: the constitution as a self-employed, and therefore what we look separately at the end of the section.

Ultimately, the job uncertainty is inherent to being self-employed. On the other hand, autonomy is something positive that is also inherent to the condition, and that all observe. In reality, both elements are the same: to Be autonomous, not to depend on one another, implies, reciprocally, a leave of absence to another to solve the problems that is also job uncertainty; they are two sides of what is, in itself, be self-employed.

In other words, what the observation dual refers to different segments, can be seen as united in the same subject. Again, it is not that there are not elements that can be described from the observation dual: There are spaces where one can say that the negative is dominant, areas where the positive is so crucial; but the observation dual-overlooked common condition that both elements to be experienced and lived.

The poles do not constitute, as established by the observation of dual

The second element is that the way in which the observation dual is each pole is not completely adequate: Neither precariousness reaches to account for the negative pole; or the figure of the entrepreneur gives an account of the polo more consolidated.

Nor precarious

First let’s look at with regard to the precarious: Nor in regard to the income, or in their trajectories, neither in terms of his working senses, the mind itself seem particularly precarious, in particular in relation to wage labour. It is not that there are no segments that are observed themselves, and can be observed from the outside, as precarious; but there are too many elements that fall outside of the observation if you look at them from there.

We consider that, in fact, there are wage and salaried workers in precarious and that ‘the most precarious category of employment is the wage-earner without a formal written contract’ (Kirsten Sehnbruch, The Chilean Labor Market, Palgrave, 2006, p 86). Even more so, vis-a-vis the salaried work there are several elements that may involve some security: you Can consider as a possible solution to the problems of low employability at the end of the work cycle, where being self-made is more common; or it can operate counter-cyclically, producing security in times of crisis. Be own-account fixed, at least subjectively, the problems of insecurity of paid work, in part because it allows the independent be in control of your situation, and it also appears as a dream to overcome the deficiencies of the pension system. While self-employment can be seen as a result of a duress –to be workers who have no access to good jobs employees-, it can be positioned as producing some assurances that it does not allow the employee more precarious. As mentioned in Kathya Araujo, speaking in general of the workers (and not only of the own-account):

The stability -and safety-concomitant – it is an expectation ideal, but that in concrete terms, provided by the social experience, appears paradoxically associated to the vulnerability. This association ends by fragilizarla as ideal. The subject cannot orient themselves from it because, given the frailty and precariousness to which it is exposed, it cannot but be a threat (Araujo, The excessive size and its subjects: the work on the case of Chile. In Transformations of Work, Subjectivity and Identity. RIL: 284)

The above makes us see that the relationship between insecurity and own-account work is more complex than what you enables you to declare it as ‘precarious’, either in toto or for a segment.

…or entrepreneurs

In the second place, to speak of entrepreneurship does not allow you to give an account what, in fact, they emphasize the advantages and possibilities of their work. Do not be confused, as often, the desire to be self-employed with a desire for business growth. Not really looking to both undertake (and to accumulate and grow), as most good not to have superiors who issue orders and control of the activity. It is interesting in this sense that the comparison between self-employment and entrepreneurship is not only common among those who see favorably such logical but also among those who are presented as critical to what they see as a body of neo-liberal and in which the activities of the own account would be registered.

At the center of the positive pole of the account itself is an experience of subjective freedom, that is, as well as live the make one’s own decisions (valuation which is a common result in other studies in Latin America). This does not imply that there are perceived pressures, many of them strong. To understand the issue of control in the work is relevant to take into account the reflections Of the Heron and their co-workers; because the activities of other actors -customers, authorities – can be perceived with elements of control over the activity: ‘that Is to say, in this particular case, you’d be talking about a type of control negotiated, based on the social interaction’ (Gayosso Ramírez, ‘Work, identity and collective action in the merchants, craftsmen from the Historic Centre of Coyoacan’. In Work not classic, organization and collective action, Volume II: Autonomous Metropolitan University-Iztapalapa, p 169), describing craftsmen in a town of Mexico, in relation with their customers. But in spite of this, this is experienced as an autonomous space, in contrast with what happens with wage work. What is it that allows this? One difference is that the wage earner who experiences a pressure on the part of the client has to solve it according to the instructions and supervision of a chief; while the self-employed person works independently. The criterion of freedom to use these workers is not the subject that does not experience external pressures, but rather, the one who decides how to react to it (being a mediator and not an intermediary to use the terms of Latour). It is for this reason that it is not possible to observe, even in the polo more positive, such as entrepreneurs these workers.

But something different

The observation of dual, in sum, does not allow us to observe that the negative pole is not mere insecurity, or the positive pole is left to be addressed from the enterprise. Simplifying your time, it is not that the own-account entrepreneurs or jobbers, or some are entrepreneurs and others in precarious, but they are not any of both things. Maticemos: it is Not that there are no segments that follow the logic, is that by observing only this, we lose sight of that for many of these workers do not apply. It is insufficient because to observe the autonomy from the venture is a wrong way to observe the autonomy; and because the experience of those who belong to the polar non-professional, which is thought of as precarious, is not only precarious.

This may have practical consequences: If we think that the central problem of the own account is precarious, we will have to emphasize with regard to social security benefits –remembering that the absence of these features is among the most common complaints. But is it enough? What solves their problems of uncertainty these actions? It is more responsive if, in the chilean case these systems are not perceived as very safe by part of the population. The way in which it has been thought the social policy is not necessarily the most appropriate to solve the insecurity. Moreover, if we think from the venture, assuming some willingness to risk, from this we derive public policies that do not necessarily give an account of his real disposition.

Obligation and choice. The basis of the observation dual

In general, the observation of dual has been shown to be insufficient to give account of the situation of their own account-although he always has a real element that allows her to have a sense. However, there is a moment in which she has in full force and commands what appears in the data. In this section we will summarize those results and put them in relation with the rest of them.

It is the talk of their trajectories that the account itself replicated and endorsed the basic idea of the observation dual: There are those who are perceived as being own account by choice, and then they have a positive vision; there are those who are perceived as own-account by obligation, and then perceived negatively affect your situation. Not only is replica the very fact of differentiating option / obligation, which is the basis of the observation dual: replicates the relationship of duality, choice/obligation with the results: those Who choose to they are in a better situation than those who perceive required.

Focus the gaze in this last connection, because there is nothing evident in the fact that those who choose something with better results. There is nothing strange in that out not uncommon to find the surprise that the situation was better than expected, or that it was worse than she thought. In fact, there are indications that the surprise is part of the experience of transition: All the complexity of the self-employment was not expected, even by those who elected him. Despite this, the relationship between choose / be forced and the result is quite strong. Behind it, in a certain sense, there is a certain illusion of transparency: The subjects know well enough, its society, so that those who have greater capacities objective because they knew of the good result possible previously, and vice versa. Given that social life is not transparent, why is this situation? In the case of the analyst, it is merely an error, but in the case of the worker it is something more interesting.

The workers, as we recall, ordered its trajectory around this axis, and without ceasing to recognize the experience of surprises, that would refute such a relationship clear. Then, we are faced with something more complex than a mere forgetfulness, or lack of recognition. Now, the experience itself in own-account work is ordered around the idea of autonomy. The positive aspect of be your own account, is the possibility of deciding about themselves. Given this, then the relationship between assessment and forms of constitution is more clear: Seen from the decision to be your own account, is seen as autonomous agent from the start, and then the trajectory is marked by positivity. Be observed from the obligation implies that it has not been the agent to be constituted in a state that, presumably, is marked by its agency, and it is tinged with falsehood, accuses him of deceit, to the whole process. It is for this reason that what is a mere error in the analyst (to confuse the dynamics of choice with the assessment) represents an experience that is very basic for the employee.

At the same time, shows us again, the central place of autonomy, to decide about the own life, which appears as a central criterion for establishing the position of their own.

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