Contesting Exclusion: Worker Centers as Sites for Low-Wage Temporary Staffing Industry Workers to Claim Full Citizenship Rights.
Anticipated graduation summer 2016
Dissertation Description: My research examines how the nexus of persistent racialized inequality, mass criminalization, and labor market restructuring exacerbates the legacies of exclusion of Latino immigrants and African-Americans from “full citizenship” or access to social, political, and economic rights and inclusion (Marshall 1992 ; Somers 2008; Somers and Roberts 2008). Most labor movement organizing and research does not examine the intersectional causes for this marginalization and how labor organizations can address them broadly. Thus, from my two years of ethnographic research with two Chicago based worker centers, I describe why worker centers have become key civil society sites for poor and working class immigrants and workers of color to demand broader citizenship rights and inclusion. Building off the work of scholars who discuss the structure and functions of worker centers, I aim to develop a theoretical framework for how worker centers in particular are serving as civil society spaces for poor and working class immigrants and people of color to contest not just their labor exploitation, but their broader fragmented, precarious, exclusionary access to full citizenship and rights, while pushing the larger labor movement to do so as well. While I argue the end goal should be broader human rights for all, regardless of race, class, nativity, and borders, I focus here on citizenship because the discourse of rights in the U.S. has long focused on immigration categories and civil rights boundaries.
Dissertation Chair: Dr. Nilda Flores-Gonzalez
Areas of specialization: local and transnational labor markets and organizing, precarious labor, worker centers, immigration, mass incarceration, citizenship and belonging, social inequality, global and Transnational sociology, class, race, ethnicity, gender, social justice organizations and movements, and qualitative and critical ethnographic research methods.