The Enigma of Commoning in Precarious Times: A Critical Perspective on Social Transformation

Carl-Ulrik Schierup, Aleksandra Alund


The article explores movements for social transformation in precarious times of austerity, dispossessed commons, and narrow nationalism. The authors contribute to social theory by linking questions by critics of “post-politics” to precarity studies on changing conditions of citizenship, labour and livelihoods. They discuss an ambiguous constitution of precariat movements in the borderlands between “civil” and “uncivil” society and “invited” and “invented” spaces for civic agency, and posit that contending movements of today are drawing intellectual energy from past movements for democracy, recognition and the common. The paper discusses the issue of an urban justice movement in Sweden emerging from the precariat in this formerly exceptionalist welfare state’s most disadvantaged urban areas. With its vision of reconstructing commons with roots in the working class movement, it has put forward claims for an egalitarian and non-racial democracy while confronting politically grounded frames of institutional conditionality.


Precarity; Social Transformation; Civil Society; Commoning; Neoliberalism.


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DOI: 10.28991/HIJ-2020-01-02-02


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