Current Projects

Guy Standings current projects, recent books, recurrent themes, advising, and other work.

Current Projects

As of 2018 Guy Standing's work is centred on three key themes:

  • Basic income, including as a member of the International Advisory Committee for a basic income pilot being carried out by Y-Combinator in Oakland, California.

  • The plunder of the commons and a proposal for a new Charter of the Commons, inspired by the 800th anniversary in November 2017 of the Charter of the Forest, the first set of laws to grant a right of subsistence on the commons.

  • Rentier capitalism and the precariat, following up themes from his recent books.

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Guy Standing's most recent book, Basic Income: And How We Can Make It Happen (London: Penguin, 2017) is the fruit of 30 years of basic income advocacy. It sets out the principal arguments for basic income - social justice, republican freedom and basic socio-economic security - as well as the economic advantages. It also deals with the main objections to basic income, especially the issues of affordability and the impact on labour supply, and considers the mooted alternatives. Separate chapters discuss basic income in developing countries and pilot schemes past and present, with a final chapter on how to get from here to there, including the creation of sovereign wealth or capital funds.

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The Corruption of Capitalism: Why Rentiers Thrive and Work Does Not Pay (London: Biteback, hardback 2016; paperback 2017) shows how capitalism in the globalisation era, far from being based on "free markets", is increasingly rigged in favour of rentiers - the owners of assets of all kinds, be they physical, financial or intellectual. As a result, the twentieth-century income distribution, in which the shares of income going to capital and to labour were roughly stable, has broken down. Inequality has vastly increased as more and more income is going to capital in the form of rent while wages have stagnated and poverty, in and out of jobs, has worsened. A new income distribution system is needed which would have a basic income or "social dividend" as its "floor", financed through levies on rental income paid into a sovereign wealth fund.

Dr Standing's earlier books, A Precariat Charter: From Denizens to Citizens (2014) and The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011; Third edition, 2016) describe an emerging class characterised by insecurity and lack of any occupational identity, taking up one of the themes in his more comprehensive analysis of the global transformation of work and labour, Work After Globalization: Building Occupational Citizenship (2009). A Precariat Charter outlines a set of policies to meet the needs and aspirations of this emerging class that could serve as a basis for a new progressive politics.

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Recurrent themes of Dr Standing's past research, often drawing on extensive household and workplace surveys, have been the insecurities faced by workers in the wake of reforms of labour law, labour regulation and social protection, and the rationale for moving towards unconditional income transfers. His research interests include: social and economic security; cash transfers and basic income; labour economics; labour, work and occupation; economic rights; occupational communities; and globalisation and social protection policy.

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Dr Standing has advised SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association of India) on a number of pilot cash transfer projects in India. A 12-minute film on one of these cash transfer projects can be watched here, and a longer presentation on the projects is posted here. A book on the results of these projects (Sarath Davala, Renana Jhabvala, Soumya Kapoor Mehta and Guy Standing, Basic Income: A Transformative Policy for India, London and New Delhi: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015) was published in early 2015, alongside a detailed report (SEWA Bharat supported by UNICEF India Office, A Little More, How Much It Is: Piloting Basic Income Transfers in Madhya Pradesh, India, New Delhi: UNICEF India, January 2014).

Dr Standing also worked with SEWA on a survey of rural and urban households in the state of Gujarat, focusing on an experimental concept of “social income” and economic insecurity. A book on the survey results was published in 2010 (Guy Standing, Jeemol Unni, Renana Jhabvala and Uma Rani, Social Income and Insecurity: A Study in Gujarat, New Delhi: Routledge).