The Liminal Worker is about the experience of work, employment, employment insecurity and precariousness, from an anthropological point of view and in a context of high unemployment and crisis in the welfare state of contemporary Greek society. Particular emphasis is placed on how workers conceive of their condition in the workplace, their job deprivation and employment precariousness and how they attempt to deal with the effects these processes have upon their daily lives. In this view, The Liminal Worker points to the fact of a constant condition of liminality as a lived experience of workers in a post-Keynesian and de-industrialised framework, within which they are forcefully detached – in symbolic and pragmatic terms – from their former roles of supposed affluence, as well as from their former secure working trajectories and instead undertake a steady course of de-standardisation, coupled with feelings of ambiguity and bewilderment about their future. For this reason The Liminal Worker attempts to bring to the fore the way workers conceive of this situation through their ethnographic voices and testimonies against the antisocial background of current economic recession and crisis, as well as to contribute to the anthropologically-informed analysis and discussion of work and employment in the European context.
Within a neo-liberally oriented environment favouring adverse social incorporation, deregulated labour relations and massive layoffs, contemporary workers experience the gradual disappearance of standard employment and the advent of its casual and insecure forms as well as the emergence of vulnerable social relationships (Castel 2000), threatening not just their material survival but also their identity and whole life. Caught in a situation defined by distant economic power structures and pedagogic political technologies that advocate less social protection for the market’s invisible hand, workers, being de-unionised and unable to forge a ‘class in itself’ solidarity, become powerless to defend themselves and are unwittingly lead to a ‘grey area’ regarding their work identity and trajectory.