Jakarta’s Precarious Workers: Are they a “New Dangerous Class”?

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13 Citations (Scopus)


In his 2011 book, The Precariat, Guy Standing claims that the precariat is “a new dangerous class.” This article seeks to revisit this claim and assess it using the case of young workers engaged in urban situations in Jakarta that fit the definition of precarious work. It will particularly focus on young workers who are often identified as potentially “dangerous” because they join vigilante groups. It is argued that these precarious workers share characteristics with the broader working class, and the claim that they constitute a new class in a developing country such as Indonesia is challenged. It is found that membership in vigilante groups is important for providing social bonds that support these young precarious workers in dealing with labour-related insecurities. The social bonds also moderate their anger, anxiety, anomie and alienation, and act to integrate them within society. It is also suggested that where these young precarious workers may be considered “dangerous,” it is a characteristic common to the lumpenproletariat. This shapes their class consciousness and affects their ambiguous relations with the rest of the working class.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-45
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Guy Standing
  • Indonesia
  • precariat
  • Precarious work
  • vigilante groups
  • working class


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