Shouldn’t you be working?
The entreprecariat (entrepreneurialism + precariat) refers to the reciprocal influence of an entrepreneurialist regime and pervasive precarity. Both precarity and entrepreurialism are impalpable yet constitutive elements of the current social reality that form the social atmosphere. Entrepreneurship spilled out of strictly entrepreneurial jobs requiring common people to behave like entrepreneurs. Similarly, precarity, as an existence lacking in predictability, job security and material or psychological welfare, became paradigmatic of society as a series of diverse yet analogous conditions, both material and immaterial.
The creator of the concept, Rotterdam-based artist, designer and researcher Silvio Lorusso, will give a talk about entreprecariat in the big hall of Filodrammatica on Friday, April 7, at 20:00h.
As he stated in his text What is the Entreprecariat?, Lorusso finds entrepreneurialism as a common response to the identity crisis of the precariat, which the British economist Guy Standing called the “class in the making”. The entreprecariat is the semi-young creative worker who put effort in her own studio while freelancing for Foodora, the manager on the verge of a burnout, the employee who needs to reinvent himself as soon as his short-term contract is over, the fresh graduate who struggles to repay his loan with a top-notch university. As Standing maintains,
“the precariat consists of those who feel their lives and identities are made up of disjointed bits, in which they cannot construct a desirable narrative or build a career, combining forms of work and labour, play and leisure in a sustainable way.”
– Standing, Who will be a voice for the emerging precariat?, The Guardian, 2011
But one can’t properly describe the precariat without referring to a genuine enthusiasm, sometimes of a euphoric kind, that is also fundamentally entrepreneurial, a dynamic energy that demands to turn precarity into flexibility. In the last decades, this attitude has been co-opted by the market and its needs, so it has been reduced to professional self-affirmation and the individual obligation to achieve it. Thus, the entreprecariat is also the startupper successfully raising money from angel investors, the specialized professional who thrives in moving from one company to the other one, the artist who travels the world with residencies, the passionate academic who attends several international conferences every month. Yet, the ultimate goal of this upbeat entrepreneurialism is also stability, hence the spatial metaphor of position as social status.
In the entreprecarious society, everyone is an entrepreneur and nobody is stable. Precarious conditions demand an entrepreneurial attitude, while affirmative entrepreneurialism dwells into constructive instability and change. Thus, entreprecarity is characterized by a cognitive dissonance. Yet, the entreprecarious condition is a privileged one, as only a minority of precarious workers are allowed to have realistic entrepreneurial ambitions in the strict sense…
Can this energy provide emancipation? Is it possible to turn entrepreneurship into a means of addressing precarization?