What is considered "legitimate work" is a deeply political question, with profound impacts on social inequalities. This article problematizes the norm of ‘normal employment’ in political and academic discourse, showing its Eurocentrism and gender bias and thus its limits for understanding the reproduction of social hierarchies today. In order to do so, the authors discuss predominant theories of work and inequality since the Second World War, critically assessing the dichotomy between workers and unemployed, as well as differentiations between workers in terms of their "precariousness". The authors recommend analyzing the struggles between labor and capital, and with it, the inequalities between workers and capital owners. This has important implications for policies: rather than focusing on the regulation of labor markets for reducing unemployment and precariousness, priority should be accorded to redistribution and the strengthening of social property in society.
Keywords: Work, inequality, global social question, politics of distribution