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Dependent Self-Employment

Theory, Practice and Policy Colin C. Williams, Professor of Public Policy, Sheffield University Management School (SUMS), UK and Ioana Alexandra Horodnic, Lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ University of Iași, Romania
Dependent self-employment is widely perceived as a rapidly growing form of precarious work conducted by marginalised lower-skilled workers subcontracted by large corporations. Unpacking a comprehensive survey of 35 European countries, Colin C. Williams and Ioana Alexandra Horodnic map the lived realities of the distribution and characteristics of dependent self-employment to challenge this broad and erroneous perception.
Extent: 224 pp
Hardback Price: $120.00 Web: $108.00
Publication Date: 2019
ISBN: 978 1 78811 882 8
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  • Business and Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Organisational Behaviour
  • Public Management
  • Economics and Finance
  • Labour Economics
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Public Policy
  • Social Policy and Sociology
  • Labour Policy
Dependent self-employment is widely perceived as a rapidly growing form of precarious work conducted by marginalized lower-skilled workers subcontracted by large corporations. Unpacking a comprehensive survey of 35 European countries, Colin C. Williams and Ioana Alexandra Horodnic map the lived realities of the distribution and characteristics of dependent self-employment to challenge this broad and erroneous perception.

Featuring rigorous empirical research, Dependent Self-Employment moves beyond the reliance on anecdotal evidence to fill in gaping lacunae in our understanding of such employment. Reporting on the European Working Conditions Survey of 2015, this impressive book provides a crucial contribution to our understanding of dependent self-employment in the 21st century, challenging not only academic perceptions but also depictions of work in the media and political discourse. The authors expertly navigate the ‘grey zone’ of defining dependent self-employment, embracing the spectrum of employment relationships and outlining the limits to the rights and authority of the dependent self-employed.

Bold and comprehensive, this timely book offers critical insight for researchers at all levels exploring the nature and distribution of employment in Europe. Given the current public debates on the platform economy, this book will also prove useful for practitioners and policy-makers in labour inspectorates, tax administrations and social security institutions worldwide.
‘How can we tackle the deficit of work faced by dependent self-employed workers? This topic is timely, complex and under review by policy-makers, academics and researchers in the EU, OECD and ILO. The book sheds light on the phenomenon and policies in 35 European countries. In addition, the study supports evidence-based discussions and policy-making on this employment model.'
– Päivi Kantanen, Ministerial adviser, Senior representative of Finland in UDW Platform

‘Williams and Horodnic’s incisive analysis of the growing phenomenon “dependent self-employment” helps to cast light on the murky and poorly understood nature of contemporary employment relationships. This theoretically informed and empirically based account of Europe-wide self-employment tackles prevailing stereotypes. The result is a balanced and lucid assessment that develops theory, contributes empirical evidence and offers positive policy options that advance the goal of decent work.'
– Monder Ram OBE, Aston University, UK

‘A comprehensive read on dependent self-employment, this book – perhaps for the first time – positions a politico-economic lens to a sociological theme, traditionally ignored as “casual work”.’
– Anjula Gurtoo, Indian Institute of Science, India


Contents: 1. Introduction Part I Theorizing Dependent Self-Employment 2. Dependent self-employment in broader context: trends in employment 3. Dominant depictions of dependent self-employment Part II Dependent Self-Employment in Practice 4. Prevalence and trends 5. Who engages in dependent self-employment? 6. Working conditions of the dependent self-employed Part III Policy Options 7. Approaches towards addressing the misclassification of employment 8. The wider context: employment and social protection 9. Conclusions References Index