Coping with job insecurity: the experience of unemployment in contemporary Argentina
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This dissertation analyzes the experience of unemployment in contemporary Argentina, emphasizing its multidimensional, heterogeneous, and dynamic character. It examines the perceptions, impacts and responses to unemployment on different dimensions of individual and social life in a context characterized by a sharp worsening of the labor market, pervasive job insecurity and uncertainty regarding the future. Argentina, which used to have a privileged position in Latin America is going through the sharpest crisis in its history. Previous certainties, based on stable and formal employment and well-established channels of social mobility are no longer present. Its entire social and occupational structure is collapsing. It is precisely this background what constitutes the particularity of the Argentinean case. The research strategy combines quantitative and qualitative analysis as a way to grasp the complexity and dynamic character of the unemployment experience. Quantitative analysis, based upon the Argentinean Permanent Household Survey for Greater Buenos Aires during the period 1990-2000. provides a broad picture of the worsening of the labor market during the 1990s, identifying the main changes experienced during this period, their nature and incidence, and the groups most affected by them. Qualitative analysis relies on 59 in-depth interviews to unemployed people of different ages, gender, social classes, and family status conducted in two contrasting locations of Greater Buenos Aires in terms of economic history and profile, social structure, and location in respect to Buenos Aires city. The main findings of this research show that the disruptive impacts of unemployment at the individual and social levels acquire particular dimensions under the present Argentinean context because the basis of previous frames of reference of work, social belonging, and social mobility have vanished. The mounting constraints that households experience to cope with their present situation and the increasing depletion of the few resources available in a context of an unprecedented crisis result in an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and lack of future perspectives.