Political economies of day labour: Regulation and restructuring of Chicago’s contingent labour markets.

Theodore, Nik.

Urban Studies 40, no. 9 (2003): 1811-1828.


Day labour and other forms of temporary, casualised and precarious employment lie at the centre of an emergent employment regime that is rewriting labour market rules in major US cities. Flexibilisation of work, processes of regional industrial restructuring and uneven development at the urban scale interact to create the conditions for the spread of low-wage contingent employment. The spread of contingent work has pursued a path of least resistance, destabilising and undermining the already difficult conditions in low-wage labour markets. This has contributed to the reproduction and reinforcement of patterns of labour market segmentation, racial polarisation and social exclusion within urban labour markets. This paper examines the restructuring of urban employment regimes through the lens of low-wage, temporary employment and its attendant social division of labour at the urban scale. The aim is two-fold: first, to examine the ways in which a ‘regime of precarious employment’ has been embedded within a regional growth model; and, secondly, to describe emerging forms of labour market regulation that are associated with this employment regime.

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