This seminar series explores the changing patterns of the uneven and variegated geography of contemporary capitalism (Peck and Theodore 2007) by focusing on the role of labour and the underpinning social relations (Brooks 2012, Coe and Hess 2012). The series examines the relationship between informality and precariousness and the differences between these two categories across geographical and social landscapes.
Insecurity and violations of labour standards and occupational health and safety regulations are common features of precarious and informal labour. Not all definitions of informality and precarity, however, correspond to this characterization. Whilst precarious work is usually characterized by low pay (Vosko 2006), increasingly there are precarious and informal workers who earn high wages. One body of literature argues that informal activities can provide job opportunities to marginalized and stigmatized groups (Gutberlet 2012); we assess the variations of wage and insecurity among precarious and informal workers. This seminar series critically engages with theories of informality and precariousness.
A range of literatures has dealt with these questions. Feminist economic geographers have challenged conventional definitions of paid work by highlighting the importance of unpaid domestic work to capitalist production (Massey 1984; McDowell 1989; 1991), an argument that remains integral to contemporary discussions of precarious work (Strauss and Meehan 2015). Similarly, the literature on informality has questioned narratives that divide the formal from the informal economy (Meager 2013, Schindler 2013). Presenters in our seminar series will reflect on these interpretations to create a dialogue between the scholarship on precarity and informality. Specifically, this series particularly gives voice to research on: women, immigrants, migrants, and workers in the Global South.
This series features in the following public collections: