Precariat without Proletariat? Something Strange Happens Along the Way to Class-Formation among Creative Urbanites

Dr Hizkia Yosias Polimpung4

4Faculty of Communications, Universitas Bhayangkara , , Indonesia

What does ‘class’ mean in the designation of precariats as the new ‘dangerous class’? This article starts with a critique of the existing narrative practices of discounting proper capitalist class relations in the discussion about precariat. It does not content however with just exposing the omission of the imperative topics in class analysis–such as value production, labor process, and mode of accumulation–in the mainstream storytellings, both inside and outside academia. The paper further argues that this omission is dialectically determined by the deviation of precariats’ class formation from prior ones already happened in the past. Drawing from 30 interviews with artistic/cultural workers in Jakarta, it is suggested that the precariats’ class formation is responsible for three phenomena related to worker’s conditions unique in contemporary capitalism: privatization of antagonism, dramatization of struggle and becoming-objective of resistance. Marxists believe that a proper class formation occurs when the workers consolidate themselves around common grievances against their bosses (class-in-itself), and from there they transform their grievances into a social bloc defined by an antagonism of class struggle (class-for-itself). However, in metropolitan Jakarta, something strange happens along the way to class formation among creative urbanites: they proclaim themselves precariat without remembering to be proletariat.


Dr. Hizkia Yosias Polimpung is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Communications and researcher at the Center for National Security Studies, both at Universitas Bhayangkara Jakarta Raya. His research intersects the contemporary mutation of post-Fordist capitalism, political economy of security, and Lacanian psychoanalysis.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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