Gabriella Alberti

Migrant labour in London’s hospitality. Ethnographic reflections on subjectivity, transiency, and collective action after a decade

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: ethnography, migration, subjectivation, trade unions, subcontracting, hospitality sector

This paper reflects on the findings and methodology of an ethnographic research study on precarious migrant workers in London’s hospitality sector between 2007 and 2011. The research drew from the tradition of Unbounded Ethnography in order to study migrant workers’ everyday practices, and from autonomous Marxist approaches to understand the significance of transiency for worker subjectivity and collective action. Developing a reflexive analysis of the researcher’s positionality at the time of the study, the author reveals the strategies as well as the barriers experienced by temporary workers and migrant women as they engage with the structures of British unions. While major changes have since occurred in the field of labour migration in the United Kingdom, «revisiting» the field of London’s hospitality ten years later helps to illuminate some of the critical workplace tensions at the root of current political contestations that surround the question of labour mobility today in the context of Brexit.

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