Poverty, Work and Households: Analytical Perspective on the Working Poor and New Indicators

Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Sociologia del Lavoro. Deadline: January 15, 2021

Sociologia del lavoro – Special Issue n. 161 (3) 2021
Edited by Marianna Filandri (Università di Torino) Enrica Morlicchio (Università di Napoli Federico II) Emanuela Struffolino (Freie Universität Berlin and WZB Berlin Social Science Center)

1. Background of the Special Issue

As a consequence of the COVID-19 emergency, the centrality of work and the family as contexts in which constraints and opportunities are structured has (re)gained attention in the academic and the public debate. The role played by the family in protecting individuals from the risk of impoverishment has now assumed new (although not totally unexpected) implications: households are not only as locus of consumptions, but also the context where the job demand is shaped. In fact, the sole participation in specific sectors of the labor market of one household member exposes all other members to a higher risk of income reduction (or complete loss) and jeopardizes health. Pre-existing income inequalities are reflected in the differential access to smart-working (available de facto only to those who are in the highest percentiles of the income distribution), in the compulsory presence in the workplace in the "essential" sectors, and in the risk of being laid off for workers with non-standard contracts.

The extensive literature and official statistics on "poverty despite work" offer analytical categories and interpretative tools to identify risk factors at the individual and household level (for the Europe see Brady et al. [2010], Lohmann and Marx [2018] and Filandri and Struffolino [2019]; for the United States Kenworthy and Marx [2018] and Thiede et al. [2015]; for Italy Filandri and Struffolino [2013], Saraceno [2015], Barbieri, Cutuli and Scherer [2018], Saraceno, Benassi and Morlicchio [2020]). Such factors, need to be reconsidered against the background of a radically different context as shaped by the COVID-19 emergency. The Eurostat definition of the working poor combines the individual dimension (the employment condition and the fact of receiving a salary very low) with that of the household (the total income of all employees is considered insufficient to support family loads). However, aspects that in the current situation are emerging as central for the identification of categories of individuals and households more at risk remain largely overlooked in this conceptualization. Two examples (among many others): the dynamics relating to the redistribution of resources and unpaid care work within households and the accumulation of contractual/working precariousness among household’s members.

Therefore, a critical reflection on the advantages and disadvantages of adopting objective or subjective poverty measurement approaches, as well as one-dimensional or multidimensional indicators for the analysis of the working poor is absolutely necessary, also in light of the vulnerabilities that the COVID19 emergency has accentuated or engendered. First of all, the eligibility criteria to income support measures generate inequality between standard, non-standard and self-employed workers, between regular and irregular workers, and between immigrants and non-immigrants. The access to welfare and the issue of wage affect not only the life opportunities of workers taken individually, but also that of their families - including minors - with severe implications in terms of impoverishment and chanced to exit poverty in the short and in the long run.

2. Call for papers

The call for papers of this Special Issue of Sociologia del Lavoro wants to contribute to the study of inwork poverty, with a focus on the debate around analytical choices and measurement issues (objective and subjective; one-dimensional and multidimensional, on an individual and household level) and to their implications for addressing the challenges posed by the COVID-19 emergency.
We welcome contributions (in Italian or English) adopting a comparative and/or longitudinal perspectives as well as case studies and addressing (among others) the following topics:

  • the interaction between the various components of in-work poverty: job instability, low wages, under-qualification, uncertainty of career prospects;
  • the relationship between the perception of poverty and of economic strain and the expectations regarding the future and the relationships between generations;
  • the role of work intensity of household’s members for objective, subjective, and multidimensional poverty;
  • the consequences of poverty (differently conceptualized and measured) on school/work transitions, career progression, transition to adulthood, income/care trade-off at advanced stages of the life course, participation in the informal economy;
  • the interaction between in-work poverty and educational poverty;
  • the role of non-profit associations for addressing social disadvantage related to in-work poverty;
  • how policies shape changes in behaviors to face the consequences of working poverty.

3. Deadlines

Papers (in Italian or English) should be submitted by 15th January 2020 via the Open Journal Systems platform http://ojs.francoangeli.it/_ojs/index.php/sl/index. You will have to follow the instructions to register as «authors» and to upload the paper. The authors will receive notification of whether their contribution has been sent to the reviewers or has been rejected by 15th February 2021. The Special Issue is planned to be published by the end of December 2021. Papers should be no longer than 8,000 words, and must adhere to the journal’s style and editorial standards: https://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/NR/Sl-norme_EN.pdf. Any paper that does not comply with the word limit or the style and editorial standards indicated in this call for papers will not be considered. Correctly formatted papers submitted via the journal’s online platform shall be subject to a process of double blind peer review.

See the Call for Papers (pdf)