Migration Studies
Social Anthropology

Tackling Precarious and Informal Work in the Nordic Countries

The Nordic social model is widely known for high taxes, economic equality, and welfare services. Funding the model relies on high rates of employment and a stable labour market. When the labour market changes as a result of financial crises, crises like the pandemic, and forces such as globalisation, digitalisation, robotisation, an ageing population and migration, the following question arises: how will such changes affect the future of the Nordic model?

The aim of the project Tackling Precarious and Informal Work in the Nordic Countries (PrecaNord) is to research the sustainability of the Nordic model by analysing precarious and informal work in Finland, Norway and Sweden, i.e. jobs that are associated with uncertainty, wherein the employee bears the risk. The researchers will collect and analyse both qualitative and quantitative data about people who have uncertain short-term employment or have an informal job. They will focus in particular on groups that perform work of this kind to a greater extent than others: marginalised people in the majority population; people who belong to minorities; and migrant workers who either have temporary or no residence permits at all.

The main question of the project is: In what ways is precarious and informal work a challenge for the Nordic model? The researchers want to understand how widespread this type of work is; what are the trends of precarious and informal work; and what are the driving forces behind it. They will also research how the key stakeholders in the labour market – trade unions, employers and authorities – relate to this type of work and how workers experience precarious and informal work. Does it affect workers’ well-being, their sense of belonging, and their trust in society and their own futures? The researchers will conduct case studies in three industries: construction work, cleaning work, and the platform economy (specifically food delivery, taxi and cleaning services).

By highlighting the meaning of safe working conditions, the researchers strive to develop new knowledge for decision-makers and enrich the discussion about the future of the Nordic model. The aim is also to contribute new knowledge about how problems related to precarious and informal work can be prevented, such as marginalisation and radicalisation. 

The scientific disciplines and perspectives in the project are sociology, social anthropology, economics and migration studies. The project is hosted by the University of Helsinki. It has been granted 950,000 euros.

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Project group

Synnøve Bendixsen, Rasmus Ahlstrand, Ann Cathrin Corrales-Øverlid, Olivia Maury, Petter Korkman, Markus Jäntti and Lena Näre.

Professor Lena Näre (project leader), University of Helsinki
Associate professor Synnøve Bendixsen, University of Bergen
Associate professor Sara Eldén, Lund University
Professor Markus Jäntti, Stockholm University
Postdoctoral researcher Anastasia Diatlova, University of Helsinki
University Lecturer Olivia Maury, Swedish School of Social Science/University of Helsinki
Doctoral Researcher Matias Muuronen, University of Helsinki
Doctoral research fellow Elisabeth Wide, University of Helsinki
Postdoctoral researcher Rasmus Ahlstrand, Lund University
Postdoctoral researcher Ann Cathrin Corrales-Øverlid, University of Bergen
Research assistant Niina Asikanius, University of Helsinki
PhD Petter Korkman