The PREWORK ("Young precarious workers in Poland and Germany: a comparative sociological study on working and living conditions, social consciousness and civic engagement") research project seeks to propose new theoretical insights into the extent to which precarious working and living conditions influence the emergent forms of social, class and political consciousness, individual life strategies and collective civic engagement of young workers in Poland and Germany. Taking as a case example the situation of young precarious workers, the research seeks to advance the relational, historical and interpretive approach to precarity in which the social boundaries of the concept are determined by institutional features of national varieties of capitalism, cultural and political discourses of “normal employment” as well as the practices of social actors.
Simultaneously, the project attempts to grasp the commonalities of experiences of young people affected by precarious employment in the context of common ideological features of late capitalist, post-Fordist societies and post-socialist transformations. In this context, we attempt to understand the process of formation of methods of dealing with unstable employment in both countries, the fragmentation of class experiences of the youth, their visions of a well-functioning economic order, as well as individual and collective attempts to cope and possibly change their situation. At the methodological level, we adapt the national research traditions to international comparative research on precarious workers. This includes the “well organised economy index” (Juliusz Gardawski), German approaches to studying precarity (e.g. Klaus Dörre) and interpretative research methods developed by Fritz Schütze (biographical method).