Narrative Continuity/Rupture: Projected Professional Futures amid Pervasive Employment Precarity. By: Ayala-Hurtado, Elena. 2021. Work and Occupations, July 2021.

As working conditions change worldwide, employment precarity is increasing, including for groups for whom such conditions are unexpected. This study investigates how members of one such group—educationally advantaged young adults—describe their professional futures in a context of unprecedented employment precarity where their expected trajectories are no longer easily achievable. Using 75 interviews with young university graduates in Madrid, Spain, I find that most young graduates drew on a long-standing cultural narrative, which I call the “achievement narrative,” to imagine future stable employment. Simultaneously, most denounced this narrative as fraudulent. To explain this finding, I draw on the concept of hysteresis: the mismatch between beliefs that are dependent on the past conditions that produced them and the available opportunities in the present. I argue that hysteresis can extend into future projections; projected futures can be guided by beliefs based on past conditions more than by lived experiences in the present. Further, I argue that the achievement narrative itself reinforces hysteresis in future projections due to its resonance and institutional support. The paper offers new insights into projected futures and employment precarity by analyzing the future projections of a privileged cohort facing unexpected precarity, further develops the concept of hysteresis, and extends the study of cultural narratives.