Deliberately casual? Workers' agency, health, and nonstandard employment relations in Australia

J Occup Environ Med. 2013 Jun;55(6):620-7. doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829176eb.


Objective: We explored Australian workers' experiences of nonstandard employment, how it related to health and well-being, and the role that Bourdieu's forms of capital (cultural, economic, and social resources) played in underpinning workers' agency.

Methods: Qualitative data from semistructured interviews with 32 causal workers were analyzed on the basis of framework analysis.

Results: Most participants were "deliberate casuals" who had chosen casual over permanent employment, with half of that group naming improved health and well-being as motivation. Those with greater access to capital felt more able to exercise choice, whereas those with fewer capital resources felt constrained to be casual. Gendered structures and labor market dynamics were also significant in shaping agency.

Conclusions: Access to capital and a buoyant labor market underpinned workers' agency in Australia, enabling some to gain health and well-being benefits from nonstandard employment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Employment / economics*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Qualitative Research
  • Young Adult