Précarité : testing the usability of a French category for international comparison
In the 1980s in France, the term précarité [an objective situation of socio-economic insecurity, precariousness], which was being used in both political and policy discourse and social science research, became highly polysemic. At first it was a category of political discourse. In sociology, it is marked by its earliest use in sociology of the family ; its later, specific use in describing employment-related situations ; and its most recent use to characterize French society as a whole. Comparative research on the five most populous countries of the European Union shows that the term cannot be used directly in international comparisons ; précarité throughout Europe cannot be measured comparatively. Other, more specific categories must be constructed which, though imperfect, allow for grasping the dimensions of what in France is customarily designated by this semantically proliferating term.