Awakening Communicative Justice: Attending to the Precariat

Ronald C. Arnett

Abstract


Emmanuel Levinas situated justice within phenomenological attentiveness to the unseen and unknown neighbor, to those not at the table of decision-making. Levinas’s conception of justice dwells beyond proximity and immediacy of personal engagement. Justice requires focus Outside the Subject. For Levinas, both ethics and justice attend to the unseen, with the former focusing on an immemorial echo of ethical responsibility and the latter considering those not present at the table of decision making. I turn to Levinas’s work Outside the Subject in order to understand our responsibility to those not at the center of power and influence. One such emerging category that necessitates acts of justice is characterized with the notion of the “precariat.” Guy Standing emphasizes three essential coordinates that define this emerging social characteristic:

(1) part-time employment;

(2) lack of full-time connection to professional identity; and

(3) rejecting full-time employment by choice, or pursuing multiple temporary jobs by necessity. After outlining Standing’s insights on the precariat, I examine Levinas’s Outside the Subject, looking for ways to address this increasing social reality of disparity between persons. 



Keywords


Precariat, Emmanuel Levinas

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