Borrowed Lives

Temporary Work Agencies and Fuzzy Class Relations in Hungary

Our study seeks to answer how temporary work agencies organize class relations. We approach this question in our research mainly from a theoretical perspective but supported by statistical data, information from temporary employment agencies’ websites and secondary literature. The claims of our study are the following. The Marxian approach to class is relevant in the analysis of contemporary societies to explore the material drivers of society and the causes of seemingly insurmountable inequalities, which are, according to meritocratic thinking, downright “natural” or “necessary.” In this analysis, fuzzing the class situation is a means of class conflict. We must consider the temporary work agencies as autonomous exploitative agents since they perform a triple function: fuzzing of class relations, the effective fulfillment of their role of leveling out fluctuations in production and recruiting workers on loan from the reserve labor force. Temporary workers doing manual labor are in a particularly vulnerable position. This situation is reflected in the fact that a significant number of temporary workers are low-skilled, work as unskilled and semi-skilled laborers and have limited or no access to their citizenship rights. In our research, we also argue that the institution of temporary work agencies does not provide a stepping stone to secure employment for low-skilled manual workers, whose vulnerable position is reproduced by temporary work agencies.

Released: Replika 125, 55–68.
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