Precarious Asia: Global Capitalism and Work in Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia

  • Authors: Arne L. Kallebergm, Kevin Hewison, and Kwang-Yeong Shin
  • Publication Date: December / 2021
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press

The spread of neoliberalism in both the global and domestic economies have led to the liberalization of labor markets and the retrenchment of social welfare protections in countries throughout the world. Precarious work – a situation in which workers bear the risks of work while receiving limited benefits – is the focus of this new work. Precarious Asia assesses the role of global and domestic factors in shaping precarious work and its outcomes in Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, as they represent a range of Asian political democracies and capitalist economies: Japan and South Korea are now developed and mature economies, while Indonesia remains a lower-middle income country. With their established backgrounds in Asian studies, comparative political economy, social stratification and inequality, and the sociology of work, the authors yield compelling insights into the extent and consequences of precarious work, examining the dynamics underlying the rise of precarious work. By linking macrostructural policies to both the meso-structure of labor relations and the microstructure of outcomes experienced by individual workers, they reveal the interplay of forces that generate precarious work, and in doing so, synthesize historical and institutional analyses with the political economy of capitalism and class relations. The book reveals the important social and economic impacts of precarious work in each of these countries, ultimately contributing to increasingly high levels of inequality which is condemning segments of the population to chronic poverty and many more to livelihood and income vulnerability.



Arne L. Kallebergm is the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kevin Hewison is the Weldon E. Thornton Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Kwang-Yeong Shin is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Chung-Ang University in Seoul, Korea.

This project was supported by SNUAC Research Grant for Asian Studies.