Personal Development and the Flexible Contracts: Depoliticized Class Struggles between Highly Skilled Workers and Manual Workers in Cluj

In the midst of diminishing levels of aggregate demand for jobs at European level and and ”transitional unemployment”, employability promises also in Central Europe the freedom to choose between successive positions and transform them in learning experiences within a career field. The firm becomes increasingly unreliable in providing a stable position or even the prospects of advancement, but may offer the necessary support to enhance one’s” employability. In this paper I aim to better understand the relation between the employee and the firm by putting in doubt the classless imaginary of the employability discourse. Focussing on the employability narrative among highly skilled, skilled and unskilled workers in a middle scale city in Romania, Cluj, a second tire city in the urban hierarchy of Central Europe, I will question the very assumption that the whole issue of the employee-employer relation is a one-to-one relation between a person and the firm, without political consequences for the other employees. In this paper I explore the way employability works in producing new class tensions between the various fractions of the workers, following the classification effects of the self-development, self-bettering and self-education narratives.

Norbert Petrovici

Lecturer in Urban Sociology and Urban Economy at Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania.

  • Topic of the paper:Imagining the Economy and the Labour Market as an Unemployed
  • Research interests:urban sociology, urban economics, participatory democracy, critical theory