Historical Social Research

Delphine Remillon : Unemployment and Turning Points in Careers: A Conventionalist Analysis. [Abstract]

The present article aims to study employment inequalities from a double dynamic perspective. It deals with the study of turning points in career paths in order to understand, first, the process of exclusion from the labor market, second, the increase in long-term unemployment over time. I mobilize the approach of economics of convention, which accounts for the processes of selection by focusing on moments of quality valuations in “tests” (valorizations and devalorizations). I use qualitative data from 60 bio-graphical interviews with French unemployed people to build a typology of conventional labor worlds based on mixed methods: quantitative lexical analysis with the software ALCESTE and qualitative analysis of the interviews. The empirical analysis reveals the existence of plural logics of coordination and valuation of work’s quality, which can be connected to the different segments of the labor market brought out by the labor market segmentation theory. The processes of exclusion differ from one segment to another and are the result of specific tests and of interactions with specific intermediaries. The “critical transitions” often stem from a tension between different registers of valuation. However, some experiences go beyond these discontinuities. Some changes in recruitment conventions, that become dominant, are at the origin of a “denial of evaluation” and of the development of an “unemployment of exclusion.”

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