Deliberately casual? Workers' agency, health, and nonstandard employment relations in Australia
Mackenzie, Catherine R
Ziersch, Anna Marie
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Objective: We explored Australian workers’ experiences of nonstandard employment, how it related to health and wellbeing, and the role that Bourdieu’s forms of capital (cultural, economic and social resources) played in underpinning workers’ agency. Methods: Qualitative data from semistructured interviews with 32 causal workers were analysed based on framework analysis. Results: Most participants were ‘deliberate casuals’ who had chosen casual over permanent employment, with half of that group naming improved health and wellbeing as motivation. Those with greater access to capital felt more able to exercise choice, whereas those with fewer capital resources felt constrained to be casual. Gendered structures and labour market dynamics were also significant in shaping agency. Conclusions: Access to capital and a buoyant labour market underpinned workers’ agency in Australia, enabling some to gain health and wellbeing benefits from nonstandard employment.