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American research into “post-career” employment reveals the growing number of people with dual status – both retired and active – on the job market, and this dual status takes a variety of forms. The frontiers between work and retirement are becoming more fuzzy, and reflect the increasing diversity of individual working careers. After identifying various structural and institutional factors which partly account for this boom in “post-career” employment, the article summarizes the main research findings which highlight the strong social differentiation between three different groups of workers: the “precarious”, the “competitive” and the “protected”, each characterized by specific gender and “race” profiles. For each of these groups, the factors of income, education and career history give rise to very different “postcareer” employment patterns. Workers in the first group – the vast majority – are often “forced” to return to work, under conditions even less advantageous than those experienced during their working life. For the second group, the material and symbolic benefits acquired during their career are accrued, so that their “postcareer” job offers not only a high income, but also meaning and satisfaction. For the third group, the high level of social benefits associated with their job, both during their working life and after retirement, tends to limit the number of individuals taking up “post-career” employment, despite a high level of education and skills that generally favours a return to the job market at the end of a working career.

Frédéric Lesemann
Julie Beausoleil
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