The politics of social risks and social protection in digitalised economies
First lines: When looking at the economic changes and technological revolution under way throughout much of Europe, many debates focus on the fragmentation of the labour force and the ‘Uberisation’ of employment: traditional forms of employment giving way to forms of working where there are armies of independent workers who are detached from any work contract and often paid on the basis of tasks performed. For many, this has marked the demise of traditional labour relations and stable work contracts. Our economies and societies are confronted with a long-term dualisation trajectory, which is being exacerbated by the processes of digitalisation. Not all forms of employment will be subject to ‘Uberisation’, but this process is part of the movement towards dualisation, which is forcing apart labour market insiders and outsiders in an ongoing process that amplifies trends that have been detectable since the 1980s. To address the challenges posed by increased dualisation and a more fragmented labour market, policymakers and researchers need to identify the nature of these trends, and consider whether they create new social needs and at-risk groups. One can identify new economic cleavages between the winners in the knowledge economy (the productive and ‘creative’ types) and the losers, whose purpose is increasingly to provide low-paid services to the winners. These challenges emphasise the need to build a new social contract between these two groups. Winners need to understand the need to protect losers by sharing the profits that are generated by both groups. Such a social contract requires renewed forms of social protection that must be embedded in the different types of welfare state regimes that prevail in Europe.