Income Discontinuity and New Strategies of Money Management.

Friday, June 24, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
420 Barrows (Barrows Hall)
Sonia Bertolini, University of Turin, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, Turin, Italy
Valentina Moiso, CNR - National Research Council, Moncalieri (TO), Italy; University of Turin, Department of Cultures, Politics and Society, Turin, Italy
The study of how the country institutional context supports precarious people allows us to formulate important observations about the lack of social protection from new social risks and about the legitimation of new social inequalities. This issue refers directly to the social rights of precarious workforce and highlights their feeling as “second class” citizens: the paper compares the strategies they enact to face the income discontinuity in different institutional contexts. Precarious people live in a particular difficult situation also because the institutional context (Welfare State, housing system, banks and mortgage markets, etc.) is structured on the basis of permanent contracts and regular (monthly) wages. The income of precarious people, on the contrary, is characterized by discontinuity, with major differences among them. Precarious workers in absence of a contract often have a temporary informal paid job, so they can have an irregular income without social security protection; on the other hand, the absence of a contract is often combined with employment continuity but with an unpaid jobs, a case in which the workers do their job without an income for long periods. The way in which the employment discontinuity and the income discontinuity combine happens differently to precarious workers possessing various levels of knowledge and specialisation, and it also differs by age and gender. This situation generates new types of “social areas at risk”, in which people, in absence of the traditional institutional forms of protection, have to imagine new strategies to deal with precariousness, in particular with income discontinuity. We focus on strategies based on money management: they are strategies to face the irregularity by managing the money (savings and debts) and the financial instruments. For example, the choice not to pay for what does not cause short-term fines (but generates heavy sanctions in the long term), or the use of banking instruments that help to face employment/income discontinuity by regulating cash flow. These strategies can base also on a number of measures to help workers to deal with income discontinuity: in many European countries, e.g. France or U.K., they are introduced in recent years following a much more widespread European trend (OECD and EU guidelines), but in others, e.g. Italy, fully-fledged policies are still lacking. The access to these support measures varies depending on the resources of the workers: public-private partnerships aimed at promoting access to credit, micro-credit, financial education to promote saving, indebtedness funds for social purposes, and the banks have broadened their offer of flexible financial instruments. Generally, the strategies about money management are not institutionalised and generate further inequalities among precarious workers. The paper starts from this general observation, to refine it by cross-national comparison of two different institutional contexts - Italy and France - in which the precarious strategies are investigated, with particular attention to women conditions.