“Precariat” combines the terms precarious and proletariat to describe the experience of working class individuals facing underemployment at a later age after maintaining employment for most of their lives, as described in this article.
Especially as a mental health counsellor, this article resonated with me, as I reflected on many past, current (and likely future) patients who present with symptoms of depression and anxiety when faced with this dismal reality. These individuals are often left to question their sense of identity when they are no longer able to call themselves by the titles they held before as industrious workers, i.e. welders, truckers, labourers, etc,. This often leads to financial strain, marital tension, substance issues, suicidality, etc, as they feel like less than productive members of a society that places a great deal of emphasis on what we do as part of who we are.
Even though I cannot relate on quite that level, to feeling meaningless or lost following a disruption in personal circumstances, I remember all too well how disconcerting it was to transition from a jam-packed schedule of full-time school and part-time work to being unable to pursue either activity due to bodily injuries following a major car accident during my 2nd year in university. It made my life feel significantly empty in comparison; thankfully, my situation was temporary but these individuals often face a far more permanent fate as they find it challenging to find comparable work prospects and lack the personal resources to pursue additional training towards increased opportunities and improved outcomes, despite government assistance programs. While there are countless reasons for maintaining this vicious cycle for profit, it is necessary to seriously consider the value of physical, mental and financial wellbeing of individuals and promote labour policies to facilitate that for all members of society by expanding our expectations regarding corporate social responsibility to include practices that value its employees as much as its customers.