Strategic visibility and the production of day-labor spaces: A case study from the San Diego metropolitan area.

Crotty, Sean M.

Urban Affairs Review 54, no. 3 (2018): 593-631.


In cities across the United States, groups of mostly men congregate in public and semipublic spaces in hopes of being hired for short-term work. The particular spaces where laborers congregate each day are crucial to their economic and social fortunes, yet to date, there is limited research examining the spatial organization of these sites. In this article, I draw on relational perspectives on the production of space and governmentality practices to examine day-labor hiring spaces in the San Diego Metropolitan Area. Drawing on more than seven years of mixed-methods research, I argue that laborers collectively employ strategic visibility: a set of spatial practices that reduces the potential for conflict and ensures laborers’ continued access to the particular spaces on which their survival depends. This analysis suggests that laborers’ site-selection and spatial practices are driven by pragmatic, economic concerns, rather than fear of interactions with policing agencies and/or anti-immigrant residents.

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