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“Dominant Fictions”: The Creation of Standard Employment in Portugal and Romania (the 1920s to the 2000s)

Project managerAdrian Grama
Project duration: 2020—2023

The standard employment relationship is both a legal construct defined by stable, full-time, long-term, dependent, and socially protected employment and a category of practice for employers, employees, trade unions, international organizations, and the state. Scholars commonly explain the emergence and development of standard employment using a complex set of factors including Fordism, collective bargaining, and the welfare state, situating it historically in postwar Western Europe. This project argues that the standard employment relationship also developed on the Southern and Eastern periphery of Europe throughout the last century, in circumstances defined by low-wage industrialization, labor incorporation, and the progressive juridification of labor relations under both authoritarian and democratic political regimes. Taking Portugal and Romania as case studies, this project investigates how domestic policymakers, legal experts, trade unionists, and international organizations contributed to making standard employment standard by extending this specific employment relationship to the majority of the active working population. Drawing on archival and published sources, this project contributes an empirically rich and theoretically informed longue durée historical perspective on the dynamics that inform current debates about the precarization of employment and the flexibilization of labor markets in Europe and beyond.

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)

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