Collective imagination has changed alongside job insecurity. This is often perceived as stimulating
Two thirds of the life of an over-50 (somebody who, in the present situation, could give birth to twins or win the Ironman championships), were spent in a world whose practical targets are the antipode of reality, dreams that nobody would dream of anymore. Working in the same place, with devotion and loyalty, was regarded as highly desirable.
This gave rise to the myth of the boss’s secretary, who has never changed her job, just like him, and knows all his and his company secrets (like Caprotti’s famous assistant, Germana). Or the waiter who has worked all his life in the same restaurant, where he knows all the customers. Or even the shop assistant who has spent all her life in the same shop and knows too-well customers’ sizes and taste…
Farewell to the myth of fixed-term jobs
When did we start considering lazy or failed somebody who had been working in the same place for more than 4 years, somebody who had grown old inside the same company, working without a motivation and a vision? During the years in which we began to regard people who stuck to a fixed-term job like a clam shell glued to a rock as fossils, unconcerned about trying new experiences, several symbolic changes occurred.
The best-known change concerns the reputation of the renowned bank clerk job: from the utmost ambition, as can be perceived in the song Compagno di scuola by Venditti, to an exchangeable job, meaning mobile staff people moved from one agency to the other, depending of the corporate merging of bank groups, and often at risk of being dismissed by the hundred and being told “take your stuff and return your pass by tomorrow”.
How collective imagination has changed
During the Eighties, the times of Milan’s famous all-night bars and fashion models, newsagents – which are now disappearing – used to show newspapers and magazines featuring competitions for state level employments, and there were plenty of people who devoted the best years of their life to enter those competitions in order to get a permanent job. Today, these newspapers, if still existing in printed form, have no longer the same readers, young graduates who aim for collar and tie jobs as in Zalone’s movies. Today, the collective imagination meshes with the general job insecurity (see the article on the analysis made by ManpowerGroup). Most people consider this ever-staying at the starting blocks, ready to change at the first good opportunity, as stimulating or simply accept changes and wait to see what future may hold, because once a door is closed another is bound to open…
While in the past people used to be obsessed with buying a house and settling down, making long-term mortgages, today people tend to share living places for decades, at least until they get married, and then go back to cohabitation after they split up. This is not only because they don’t get a mortgage if they frequently change their job, but also because they cannot be sure about where they will find the next job and therefore there is no point in buying. Why buying in Brussels if you may want to move or may be moved to Shanghai after four months? Why buying in Milan if you may end up in a branch office in Mestre? We are truly becoming much more adventurous.