Proposal preview

Social indicators and policies toward labor precariousness in a growth context: an Eurasian comparative, connected and long-term approach

“De-standardization of work” and growing insecurity for the workers in the context of the global diffusion of neoliberalism and economic stagnation of the old industrial nations having been abundantly studied in the last two decades, a quite normative view of what is labor precariousness has tended to impose itself in the social sciences. This induced the risk, when taking a longer historical view of what as been “insecurity” at work, of anachronistic analysis. This panel therefore proposes to understand and compare forms of “precariousness” as they have been understood by using “social indicators” in the context of the development and global diffusion of new knowledge and governance technologies, from the beginning of the twentieth century, through the postwar growth period, and finally into contemporary high growth China. The participants will discuss how expertise, that developed and circulated in particular historical circumstances, such as the interwar rationalization movement, the great depression and World War Two, contributed to shape the postwar and high growth period social question and the labor and macroeconomic policies that were supposed to eliminate poverty. A particular focus will be made on the genesis of the concept of “minimum wage”, that embodies, more than other socio-economic regulation institutions, the expertise produced by social reformers from the beginning of the twentieth century, the new collective bargaining mechanism that emerged after WWII, and the politics of productivity that dominated labor and social policies. This long term historical analysis can provide a more “complex” and “rooted” vision of the fragmentation of labor market hierarchies and of the diverse policies they induced. What are the consequences for the workers situation, of the trade- offs between growth and protection? How should one think about simultaneously economic and social regulations that transcend the classical divides between profit and redistribution, and between state and market, and how should one rethink the current crisis situation as a result? These are the key questions that this panel intends to raise.


  • King Chi Chan, City University of Hongkong,, China
  • Yoko Tanaka, Tsukuba University,, Japan
  • Bernard Thomann, Inalco,, France

Session members

  • King Chi Chan, City University of Hongkong,
  • Gilles Guiheux, Université Paris Diderot,
  • Morgane Labbé, EHESS,
  • Martine Mespoulet, Université de Nantes,
  • Paul-André Rosental, SciencesPo,
  • Yoko Tanaka, Tsukuba University,
  • Hiraku Tanaka, Kobe University,
  • Bernard Thomann, Inalco,

Proposed discussant(s)

  • Manuela Martini, Université de Lyon,


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