On the character and organization of unregulated work in the cities of the United States

DeFilippis, James and Martin, Nina and Bernhardt, Annette and McGrath, Siobhan (2009) On the character and organization of unregulated work in the cities of the United States. Urban Geography, 30 (1). pp. 63-90. ISSN 0272-3638

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In this article, we analyze the routine violations of employment and labor laws what we call "unregulated work"-in New York City and Chicago. In these jobs workers are paid less than the minimum wage, are subject to unsafe working conditions, and are fired for attempting to organize. These violations have become a routine part of the organization of production in industries that range from restaurants to construction to laundries to child care. Unregulated work has become a staple in U. S. urban economies and labor markets. In the context of deindustrialization in U. S. cities, these are the jobs that have grown in importance in metropolitan areas. And their role in providing the goods of collective consumption places them at the heart of what is producing "the urban" in contemporary capitalism. Despite this significance, not enough has been done to systematically document and understand unregulated work as it exists across diverse industries. This article begins the process of filling this significant gap in the literature.

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Journal Article
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Urban Geography
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28 Nov 2011 15:00
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 21:56