Worker precariousness has become a major issue globally.
Much of this, however, is divorced from the central role that this concept
played in Marx’s critique of political economy. This article traces the
notion of precarious labor back to its classical roots in historical
materialism, including Marx’s general law of accumulation and his reserve
army of labor conception. . A look at the meaning of “precarious work” by
In The Condition of the Working Class in England, Engels wrote:
in his famous lecture “Useful Work versus Useless Toil,” first delivered in 1883 and later incorporated into his 1888 book Signs of Change, Morris wrote of “the precariousness of life among the workers” resulting from the tendency “to increase the number of the ‘reserve army of labor.’” The monetary contributions that workers made to trade unions were an extra charge that workers had to pay out of their wages simply to combat “precariousness of…employment,” against which organized labor was the only defense.