Racial geographies and the challenges of day labor formalization: A case study from San Diego County.

Crotty, Sean M., and Fernando J. Bosco.

Journal of Cultural Geography 25, no. 3 (2008): 223-244.


Recent debates surrounding immigration in the United States have brought renewed attention to day laborers. In their search for employment, day laborers temporarily occupy public and quasipublic spaces. The visibility of day labor and the appearance of day labor hiring sites raise new questions about public space and its ‘proper’ use. The establishment of a new day labor hiring site often creates a locational conflict. Creating formal spaces for day labor congregation is the current ‘best-solution’ for controlling day labor and eliminating community conflict that often surrounds informal day labor hiring sites. Drawing on an ethnographic research project at a formal day workers’ center in San Diego County, the paper shows how the effectiveness of formalization efforts is highly dependent on the particular geographies of day labor in a neighborhood. Our overall argument is that racial categories and processes of racialization that are part of the geographies of day labor impact the effectiveness of formal day labor sites. Moreover, it is argued that processes of racialization often work to promote conflict and/or cooperation among day laborers themselves and between day laborers and employers.

Much of what is available in the Library is publicly available and can be accessed through a link on this website. However, most academic journal articles reside beyond a paywall and only the abstracts are included here.