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Precariat
Posted: 23 September 2017 08:40 AM   [ Ignore ]
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At the risk of displaying my ignorance I have to say this term stopped me in my tracks but I take comfort in the fact that OED is as clueless about the word as I am. The nearest it comes is precarium which is a “loan granted on request but revocable whenever the lender wishes” from classical Latin precarius, given as a favour, depending on the favour of another. (Which explains our word precarious as nothing is more precarious than depending on something which can be taken from you on a mere whim.)

Anyway back to precariat. Wikipedia defines as “in sociology and economics, the precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare.” In other words people in a precarious position. How long has the term been current? Not long I suspect if it isn’t in the big dic, although OED does sometimes take a surprisingly long time to include new words.

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Posted: 23 September 2017 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Haven’t done any research to establish the origin of the term, but this article suggests a source of its current
usage:

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/5gqq4z/what-the-fuck-is-the-precariat-and-why-should-you-care-293

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Posted: 23 September 2017 10:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Michael Harrington was writing about “a ‘precariat’ of casual workers” in 1993, so it’s not all that new.  (I feel like I’ve been familiar with it since the ‘90s, but of course that means nothing.)

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Posted: 23 September 2017 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I could have sworn I wrote this term up for the this site, but evidently not. (Which raises the question, where in the hell did I publish that article?)

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Posted: 23 September 2017 12:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Dave Wilton - 23 September 2017 12:10 PM

I could have sworn I wrote this term up for the this site, but evidently not. (Which raises the question, where in the hell did I publish that article?)

Here- http://www.wordorigins.org/index.php/site/comments/2016_wordoriginsorg_words_of_the_year_woty/

May: unnecessariat. The term precariat was coined back in 2011 by economist Guy Standing to denote the growing class of workers who were getting by economically, but who had no job security, often working multiple, temporary gigs without medical benefits, and for whom the slightest misfortune would send them off into poverty and bankruptcy.

Is there any truth to the rumors that (1) Dave’s memory is fading, and (2) that the economist goes by his middle name, and that his true first name is Last?

[ Edited: 24 September 2017 04:08 AM by cuchuflete ]
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Posted: 23 September 2017 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Many of these new words are just reincarnations of existing words, or words that are obsolete. Precariat is synonymous for the more common proletariat.

Proletariat:

OED

a. Polit. Wage earners collectively, esp. those who have no capital and who depend for subsistence on their daily labour; the working classes.

i understand there’s a slight variations to their definitions, but the meaning is quite similar.

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Posted: 23 September 2017 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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It’s strange: I had a vague feeling of having seen precariat on this site before, but the search function turned up nothing but this thread.

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Posted: 23 September 2017 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Logophile - 23 September 2017 02:28 PM

Many of these new words are just reincarnations of existing words, or words that are obsolete. Precariat is synonymous for the more common proletariat.
[...]
i understand there’s a slight variations to their definitions, but the meaning is quite similar.

Not really. Members of the precariat are not necessarily, or even usually, working class. Most university faculty, for example, are members of the precariat. The key feature of the the class is that their income is precarious, liable to be lost at a moment’s notice. A proletariat, on the other hand and at least traditionally, can rely on steady employment.

(And I’ve searched my hard drive and come up with nothing on precariat. I have clear memories of researching and writing up the term, but I can find nothing on it. Very strange.)

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Posted: 24 September 2017 02:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Google ngrams seems to think there was at least one instance of the word from 1916.

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=precariat&year_start=1800&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=0&share=&direct_url=t1&#x3B;,precariat&#x3B;,c0

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Posted: 24 September 2017 04:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Faldage - 24 September 2017 02:16 AM

Google ngrams seems to think there was at least one instance of the word from 1916.

The early citations there appear to be OCR errors. One is the Latin precariae and another is precambrian.

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Posted: 24 September 2017 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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The term precariat was coined back in 2011 by economist Guy Standing

Clearly untrue, although he may have been under the impression he was coining it.

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Posted: 24 September 2017 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’m not clear on the basis for your assertion that this is “clearly untrue.”

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Posted: 24 September 2017 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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well, languagehat mentions an author whom he claims was using the term in the 1990’s; in which case it couldn’t very well have been coined in 2011.

Michael Harrington was writing about “a ‘precariat’ of casual workers” in 1993, so it’s not all that new.

See post #2 in this thread.
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Posted: 24 September 2017 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Dave Wilton - 23 September 2017 07:05 PM


(And I’ve searched my hard drive and come up with nothing on precariat. I have clear memories of researching and writing up the term, but I can find nothing on it. Very strange.)

See post #4, above, for a memory refresher.

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Posted: 24 September 2017 12:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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well, languagehat mentions an author whom he claims was using the term in the 1990’s; in which case it couldn’t very well have been coined in 2011.

D’oh!  I need more sleep.  Still, knowing that we all have fallible memories, I’d like to see an actual citation of Harrington’s use of the word.

Edit: and I found one, in Socialism: Past and Future, 1993.

[ Edited: 24 September 2017 01:02 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 24 September 2017 05:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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What is the citation? I can’t find a searchable copy and would like to see if he’s using it in the same sense as it’s used today. (It’s on Google Books, but nothing turns up when I search it.)

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