Living in an Age of Precarity in 21st Century Asia

Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario*, Jonathan Rigg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The term “precarity” pays attention to the various ways in which policies and processes that promote economic growth can also, at the same time, induce a state of precarity or precarious living. In this introductory article, we interrogate one of the paradoxes of Asian development: greater precarity set against the backdrop of an economic “miracle.” The focus is on how policies and processes that are part of neo-liberal orthodoxy create new forms of marginalisation or precarity and new classes of the marginalised or the precariat. These include: transnational migrants without basic protection; factory workers employed on casual contracts; elderly with no old age state support; minorities dispossessed by land grabbing or resettled to make way for mega-projects; and farmers facing declining terms of trade, shrinking landholdings, and growing debts as they invest in new farm technologies. These disparate experiences provide a telling antidote to the growth-at-all-costs philosophy that favours economic expansion over matters of distribution, material prosperity over human flourishing, and corporate profitability over workers’ basic incomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-527
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Contemporary Asia
Issue number4
Early online date5 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

The acceptance date for this record is provisional and based upon the month of publication for the article.


  • Asian miracle
  • marginalisation
  • neo-liberal orthodoxy
  • Precarity
  • vulnerability


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