Flexible, Hard-working and Inexpensive
REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT and their installation KEEP FIT FOR THE JOBMARKET
Manpower entrepreneurs are applicable at all times and possess numerous key qualifications. Manpower entrepreneurs are often found in the area of self-employment, but as well among the "new employees" who, while being employed only short-term, execute a high degree of personal responsibility. Even unemployed persons are converging to self-responsible economic patterns through participating in the training and qualification market.
Popular ideas among founders of so-called "Ich-AGs" ("Me-PLC"; governmentally supported self-employment for jobless people in Germany) are for example: sale of supper ware or cosmetics, creative workshops, household expenses consultant, on call waiter, escort services for families and seniors, nutritionist, financial consultant or dog taxi.
One has to assume that the number of manpower entrepreneurs is to increase in the coming years. Due to the reduction of regular employment competencies and key qualifications will be called up only temporarily, if there is a demand for them. The shady sides of personal responsibility are an uncertain future perspective and the necessity to compete through lower income. In (increasingly short-term) regular employment the price for a relatively safe job is in many cases a decreasing wage and extra work. For many forms of employment the pressure to be flexible, the necessity of "working everywhere at all times" is rising.
The space installation KEEP FIT FOR THE JOB MARKET deals with this phenomenon of new forms of work. It consists of five ergo meters reminding the visitor of the paradigm of power visible in gyms. The installation enables the visitor to understand a complex field of topics by becoming a user. He is involved, may participate, personal reference is permitted thus reflecting authenticity. Flat screens are added to the training units that automatically start when the ergo meter is moved by muscular power. As soon as the motion stops the video stops as well, the picture freezes. The installation can only be watched "in motion". This symbolizes the necessity of "being in motion at all times" and the pressure to perform of the manpower enterpriser. The installation requires an active visitor and is interactive.
The about three and a half minute long video sequences show examples of manpower entrepreneurs in five different areas:
The mobile massage in the transit zone of an airport is an offer acting as a representative for many services being mostly offered by freelancers. Their field of work often spans over multiple locations having to be activated depending on order situation or demand.
They are self-motivating sole traders, freelancers, self-employed persons, micro entrepreneurs. Permanently they have to make efforts to get new orders and they have to advertise themselves. When realising their business concept they drift between self-determination and heteronomy, between personal responsibility and market requirements.
Call centres offer individual-related interactive services, e. g. market analyses and surveys. Other than other service providers call centres have a relatively big enterprise size. As far as agreements on tariffs, employment law and workers´ participation are concerned, there are big differences. The number of part-time workers is quite high; working at night, on weekends and public holidays is normal. Many of the employees are students, most are female.
The third short movie that can be activated through using the ergo meter shows seasonal workers from Poland harvesting and packing chicory. Guest-workers from Eastern Europe match the picture of the historic migrant worker. They work in agriculture or tourism (hotels and restaurants); like migratory birds they wander from one area to the next, depending on the season, on a global level. The number of work permits per enterprise is limited. Higher qualification is not needed. For many of the harvest helpers this kind of seasonal work is a second pillar of income in addition to another occupation in their homeland.
In the early morning, when shopping malls are still closed, signs of life can be witnessed in the orphaned temples of consumption. It is the cleaner polishing shop windows, revolving doors, cash points, escalators and car parks. Another short portrait made by the REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT accompanies a group of female cleaners from South-eastern Europe being responsible for keeping up appearances of the world of goods. They work as subcontractors. It is not unusual to outsource this kind of service. Because of different tariffs it is possible to lower expenses. The number of people being forced to work self-employed or to pretend this increases. .
The fifth and final example for atypical jobs is found in the increasingly important sector of honorary activities. The senior expert works on this altruistic basis, offering mainly his life experience. He is the modern counterpart of the popular junior enterpriser. The demographic factor leads to a rising number of older people in Western industrial societies. Very soon the portion of people creating the GNP will be smaller than the portion of pensioners. As a result the age when one is allowed to retire is to be raised. Agencies work as intermediaries for senior expert services. They see to not let lie idle a lifetime of know-how but to apply it where it is needed. The operational area of senior experts is often international. Yet this model leaves us with the question how opportunities for having a job for less qualified seniors will develop in the future.
The REINIGUNGSGESELLSCHAFT asked prototypical representatives of manpower entrepreneurs to characterise the present and future development of labour by sharing their individual experiences. The goal is to make individual challenges inside the global development comprehensible. Different experiences and segmented "patchwork biographies" create miscellaneous identities expanding beyond working life.
In addition to the incisive individual biographies the visitor finds connotations on the room's walls clarifying connections in form of slogans. The intention is to show how strong professional identities are anchored in society and how individuals stand their ground in it. The "social utopia" of expressing solidarity with others in an individualised society communicates a critical but also constructive approach.
The variety of biographies makes the decrease in standardisation and the increase in individualisation of labour visible. Who has written more letters of application and for which jobs? How can one arrange family and profession? How is work done in one's own flat at all times? Furthermore the informal sector is on the rise. Even though hidden economy is difficult to capture lowest services are often the only form of income for certain social levels, e. g. illegal employment, collecting bottles/trash, sale of sunglasses, dog sitter. The promises of our spare time and event society also create new working fields for micro-enterprises, e. g. phone marketing, ring tone marketing or EBay power seller.
Today's society runs through a process of individualisation, i. e. a change from heteronomy to self-determination of the individual. The decay of classical professional patterns is facing an increasing self-determination of the individual.
According to Anthony Giddens and Ulrich Beck a qualitatively new radicalisation and universalisation of individualisation is developing in our current society. Former societal classifications like classes or ranks will become obsolete. The increasing necessity of a reflexive lifestyle comes along with an increase in education. Pluralisation of lifestyles is increasing as well, determination of one's identity and sense of life becomes an individual achievement. This is supported further by a change of the governmental and economic framework.
Individualisation, together with the growing demand for self-responsibility, is connected to the abolition of classical social bonds. The break-up of frontiers between job and everyday life has led to a growing economisation of human relationships. Mobility and flexibility are new terms of risk society (Beck) which is characterised by the abolition of security and more precarious and destandardised employment.