Flexibility and precariousness

Cahiers, no. 131-132

31 March 2002Contact

Over the last thirty years the Ile-de-France area economy has undergone far-reaching change. While enhancing its competitiveness in line with other great European metropolises and adapting to the demands of globalisation, it has also become more fragile and vulnerable to fluctuations in international economic trends.

Companies have turned to varied forms of flexibility in order to cope with an increasingly unstable and uncertain economic environment. Subcontracting, relocation, new hubrid forms of employment, hiring or firing, wage policies have had a range of consequences on local workforces and local economies. A growing number of people are now affected in terms of income, welfare, woring lives and their lives in general.

The situation has brought both constraints and opportunities. Changing employment and working patterns have coincided with societal change: individualisation of working, leisure and consumption practices, changes in family structures, rise in women entering the workplace, an emphasis on free time and independence.

In a region where economic centres of excellence can be found cheek by jowl with deprived districts, subject to stark contrasts between wealth and poverty, the stake is of key importance and the issue of economic, social, spatial and time regulation paramount.

The demand for "flexibility" will require adaptation on both an individual and sub-regional level if "precariousness" is to be avoided. Meeting this challenge requires an innovative approach and it is local government's role to devise initiatives such as the recent "time agencies" in order to do so. This brief addresses a variety of issues from a range of viewpoints and looks to the future by forecasting changes on a regional and local level.

This study is linked to the following theme :