Churchill, B., Ravn, S. & Craig, L. (2019) ‘Gendered and generational inequalities in the gig economy era’. Editorial for Special Issue. Journal of Sociology, vol. 55 (4), pp. 627–636.

This special issue sheds light on the intersection of a number of developments: the changing labour market, the (stalled) progress of women’s workforce participation and gender equality and the ‘broken promise’ of human capital theory for younger generations. It focuses on the contemporary challenges for young people in general and young women in particular, posing questions about how this state of affairs has evolved, and the implications for gender and generational equity in Australia and beyond. This special issue builds upon a symposium hosted at the University of Melbourne in November 2018, funded by the School of Social and Political Sciences. Some of the papers presented at this workshop are included in this special issue and they are complemented by additional articles received in response to a special call for papers. The issue includes a mix of approaches, including quantitative and qualitative approaches as well as novel methodological and theoretical contributions. The majority of the papers are Australian-focused, but the issue does include contributions from Europe, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

From the papers included in this special issue of Journal of Sociology, three main themes emerge. First, the transition from education to work for younger generations is becoming increasingly uncertain because of the weakened link between human capital investment and employment outcomes. As some of the research in this issue highlights, this experience is no longer confined to young people without tertiary qualifications as it may have been once in the past. Second, the uncertainty of the education-to-work nexus and precarious work in general is having a significant impact upon how young people construct their identity and imagine their futures, which is heavily classed and gendered. This is related to the third theme – young women, many of whom, as the articles in this special issue show, are hopeful about the opportunities in the gig economy era and into the future, but find that the experiences of educational success do not match their expectations or the requirements of the current labour market, forcing them not only into gig or gig-like work but also highly gendered roles at home.

Image: Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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