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Labour market intermediation I: Buttressing, flanking or contesting precarity in neoliberal times

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group
Organizers: Norma Rantisi, Deborah Leslie, Mostafa Henaway
Chairs: Deborah Leslie


The last several decades have been associated with tremendous instability in labour markets, what Zizys (2011) refers to as a “perfect storm”. Increasing number of workers are employed in precarious jobs, with precarity stratified by gender, race and class (Fudge and Strauss, 2013; Strauss, 2018; Vosko, 2000). The decline of the welfare state and rise of neoliberal modes of governance have prompted the rise of new types of intervention, and in particular, new types of labour market intermediaries. In order to fill the gaps left by cutbacks to state programs and organized labour, a range of intermediaries and “shadow state” institutions now play a more important role (Martin 2011; Peck and Theodore, 2007). These intermediaries include private sector intermediaries (such as temporary help agencies), membership-based intermediaries (including guilds and professional associations), but also a range of publicly-funded agencies, non-profits, and community organizations, such as neighbourhood workers’ centers or work-integration social enterprises (Benner 2003; Peck and Theodore, 2001, 2012; Choudry and Henaway 2014). While many intermediaries are involved in struggles that challenge the nature of contemporary labour markets, potentially intersecting and/or allying with organized labour unions, many end up compensating for the inadequacies of the capitalist market or more actively facilitating the rise of precarious employment. This session aims to bring together scholars who are looking at a range of intermediaries, from the more regressive to the more transformative, and the contradictions embedded in these institutional forms. We are interested in examining the evolving landscape of labour market intermediation, and what it implies for tactics, strategies and policies for attaining decent, secure work.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Brian Hennigan*, Syracuse University, Gretchen Purser, Syracuse University, The other side of the paycheck: Budgeting lessons in job-readiness programs for the poor 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Ashley Baber*, Loyola University Chicago, Labor market engineers: Redefining labor market intermediaries with the rise of the gig economy 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Nik Theodore*, University of Illinois at Chicago, Making markets for exploitable labor 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Nina Ebner*, University of British Columbia, Migrant centers in northern Mexican border cities as labor market intermediaries 15 12:00 AM
Presenter Mostafa Henaway*, Concordia University, Just In time Workers, for Just In Time Delivery: Neoliberal logistics, and Temporary work in the logistics sector of Montreal. 15 12:00 AM

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