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“Simple jobs” for disqualified workers. Employability at the bottom of the labour market

Eva Nadai & Anna Gonon (2021)

In: Suter, Christian/Cuvi, Jacinto/Balsiger, Philip/Nedelcu Mihaela (eds.): The future of work. Zürich: Seismo, pp. 199-221. Open access.

Extract: “9.2 Theoretical Framework and Empirical Database
In everyday language the term qualification refers to the certified proof of a specific education and training. For the Economics and Sociology of Convention it has the more encompassing meaning of attributing properties to social objects as well as conferring a quality or value (Diaz-Bone 2018, 143). A prominent explanation for the low value of unqualified workers holds that educational attainment serves as an indicator of productivity and trainability; the lack of qualification, therefore signals low productivity (Gesthuizen et al. 2011). In contrast, Salais (2001) argues that labour and its value do not yet exist at the moment of selling it in the market, i.e. when employers and workers enter into an employment contract. What matters is not the work per se but ‘the (very material and singular) product of work’ (Salais 2001, 7). Hence, the value of labour is only realized at the moment of selling the product in the market. Hiring thus requires prognostic judgments on how the prospective worker contributes to production and market success. Valorization comprises two analytically distinct operations: valuation as ‘adding value to something’ and evaluation as ‘producing a judgment by assessing the value of something’ (Bessy and Chauvin 2013, 85).” (p. 201)

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