“Relatively few UK citizens, I maintain, can anticipate their futures with sanguinity. So my employment of ‘precariat’ acknowledges this insecurity without making the ‘error’ of discovering a new class”.
Graham Scambler outlines a revised class structure for the UK that brings new light to the 1% that the NS SEC class structure is not able to describe. The quote refers to the ‘precariat’, not as a new social class separate from the middle and working class, but as a term to describe many in working and middle class positions whose lives and jobs can be described as being precarious, i.e. could be described as only a few pay slips away from penury and food banks. Given the level of personal debt faced by people, including mortgage debt which low interest rates are protecting us from, and given that the jobs themselves can be outsourced to another country, restructured into redundancy or overtaken by technology, or become too hard through ill health, then many might come to see precarity as a feature of life regardless of being in the middle class. Nurses, who were once a solid feature of the working landscape, might also be in this precarious position. To nurse requires good physical and mental health. Any challenge to this, or to the health of a family member, might put the job in peril. Many nurses right now are enjoying low interest rates on their mortgages and will also have loans and credit card debt. For now that is safe, but this historic situation will not last. NHS Trusts could in the future replace nurses with assistant practioners or a higher HCA to RN ratio. We have yet to see how technology will deskill and replace professional nursing, however we would be foolish to think nursing is immune from this process. Scambler has done us a service by reminding us that our life course is linked to the decisions made by the capitalist executive and their political supporters. The NS SEC classification may give a false sense of security of class position that may not be merited. Are nurses middle class and thus safe from precarity? I don’t think so.
Perhaps this test might show this? Its from the BBC called ‘the squeezed middle’.