The Shaky Social Citizenship of Early-Career Independent Professionals: Work Transformation, Career and Life Uncertainty, Unrepresented Rights

Guido Cavalca


The combination of a segmented and flexible labour market and a fragmented welfare system has given rise to an unprecedented risk of uncertainty for the new generation of independent professionals. Independent self-employment frequently conceals precarious working conditions, low wages and limited protection; tasks, knowledge, networking and creativity are deteriorating, with an evident decline in autonomy often leading to entrapment in poor occupational careers. A qualitative research, involving 72 early-career I-Pros in Milan, argues that the new generation of professionals is undergoing a crisis of social citizenship – since social integration through labour market inclusion, structured representation of interests, welfare protection, are lacking – and it is also showing a “culture of uncertainty”, a day-by-day approach to life and career. Beyond a group of fully integrated I-Pros, most professionals show to suffer from economic and work vulnerability as well as relational fragility, whereas the weakest part of interviewed I-Pros experiences social and professional vulnerability, strong isolation at work and renunciation of personal objectives.


independent professionals; self-employment; social citizenship; uncertainty; vulnerability

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