Mitnik, Pablo. 2018. “New Mobility Policies in the Post-Fordist Economy: Low-Wage Work, Intragenerational Mobility and Distributive Justice.”

Abstract

Since the mid-1990s, one popular response to the “working-poor problem” and related problems in the United States has been the attempt to create new micro and meso social infrastructures— “career ladders,” “career pathways,” “workforce development networks,” and so forth—to support the upward mobility of the disadvantaged. This paper advances a phenomenal characterization and a theoretical account of these “new mobility policies” (NMPs). It argues that the key principle behind all NMPs is the context-specific interlocking between mobility and regulatory functions. It also distinguishes four ideal-typical contexts in which the new mobility policies operate and identifies, in each context, the functions the policies play, the mechanisms the policies involve, and the conditions generating regulatory problems for capitalists or for other powerful stakeholders that the policies offer to solve by pursuing their mobility goals. In addition, the paper resorts to the notion of Pareto optimality and to Rawls’ and to luck-egalitarian theories of distributive justice to articulate normative foundations for the new mobility policies. This analysis leads to the conclusion that while NMPs are on a firm normative footing when implemented in one of the four ideal-typical contexts, in the others they would only achieve normatively desirable goals under stringent conditions, and might in fact contribute to the reproduction of the social conditions responsible for the problems they are trying to address.