Precariousness and public employment in terms of gender. A look at municipal services in Chile (2024)

The thesis analyses the factors that influence the feminisation of job insecurity in Chilean municipal employment. The thesis approaches this question from a theoretical foundation that combines the gender perspective with different theories and approaches to labour precariousness. This theoretical articulation is applied to an object of study that is very scarcely studied from a sociological perspective: municipal employment. This scarce treatment in the international sociological literature is combined, in the Chilean case, with an evident lack of data on employment at the local level. This lack of data has obliged the doctoral student to collect individualised data, municipality by municipality, on people employed at the local level. The initial research question is broken down in the doctoral thesis into two main objectives: 1) To identify the objective dimensions of job insecurity in municipal employment and its causes; and 2) To explain why this insecurity is linked to gender segregation. These two main objectives are answered by considering the three main areas of municipal services that municipalities are responsible for in Chile: public administration in strict terms, health services, and primary and secondary education.

At the methodological level, the doctoral thesis proposes a design that articulates quantitative and qualitative data in order to have the broadest possible approach. The qualitative data have been obtained from semi-directed interviews with key informants, experts and actors at the municipal level. Quantitative data were obtained from two different sources. On the one hand, by downloading the data provided by the National System of Municipal Information (SINIM), and on the other hand, by directly requesting the information through the transparency system in 3 ministries and 345 municipal bodies (town councils or municipal corporations). The qualitative data have been exploited by means of a thematic analysis, which has been developed with the Atlas.ti programme. Quantitative data have been exploited statistically by means of univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses. One of the most important elements of this quantitative analysis has been the construction of a typology of precarious profiles, which has made it possible to show the different forms that precarious employment takes and the degree to which multidimensional precariousness affects the public workforce.

The main results show, on the one hand, that Chilean municipal services have a highly heterogeneous and sexually segregated employment structure, which reproduces territorial and labour market inequalities, and which, in part, can be explained by the very socio-historical construction of Chilean municipalities as employers and providers of services to citizens. On the other hand, the data show that the characteristics of job insecurity in municipal employment go beyond the dichotomous view of precarious/non-precarious, usually associated with job stability, i.e. the temporary/permanent binomial. Factors such as the specific area of municipal work, the rural/urban dimension and the wealth of the municipality make up a map of municipal job insecurity in Chile that is impossible to reduce to a single dimension

Author: Betzabeth Carolayne Marín Nanco

Supervisors: Pilar Carrasquer & Joan Miquel Verd

Date of thesis defense:  15/03/2024

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