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The Dirty Work of Neoliberalism: Cleaners in the Global Economy

Luis L. M. Aguiar (Editor), Andrew Herod (Editor)
ISBN: 978-1-4051-5636-3
272 pages
December 2006, Wiley-Blackwell
The Dirty Work of Neoliberalism: Cleaners in the Global Economy (1405156368) cover image
In this collection of essays, an international group of scholars investigate the global building cleaning industry to reveal the extent of neoliberalism's impact on cleaners.

  • This book provides the first intensive study focusing on building cleaners and their global experiences
  • Brings together an international group of scholars and experts to investigate different national contexts and examples
  • Draws out important commonalities and highlights significant differences in these experiences
  • Examines topics including erosion of cleaners' industrial citizenship rights, the impact of outsourcing upon their working conditions, economic security, and the intensification of their work and its negative effects on physical health
  • Considers how cleaners are mobilizing to resist and respond to the restructuring of their work.
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Introduction: Cleaners and the Dirty Work of Neoliberalism (Andrew Herod and Luis L M Aguiar).

SECTION 1.

1. Introduction: Geographies of Neoliberalism (Andrew Herod and Luis L M Aguiar).

2. Janitors and Sweatshop Citizenship in Canada (Luis L M Aguiar).

3. Maria's Burden: Contract Cleaning and the Crisis of Social Reproduction in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Andries Bezuidenhout and Khayaat Fakier).

4. Restructuring the Architecture of State Regulation in the Australian and Aotearoa/New Zealand Cleaning Industries and the Growth of Precarious Employment (Shaun Ryan and Andrew Herod).

5. Manufacturing Modernity: Cleaning, Dirt, and Neoliberalism in Chile (Patricia Tomic, Ricardo Trumper and Rodrigo Hidalgo Dattwyler).

SECTION 2.

6. Introduction: Ethnographies of the Cleaning Body (Andrew Herod and Luis L M Aguiar).

7. The Cleaners You Aren't Meant to See: Order, Hygiene and Everyday Politics in a Bangkok Shopping Mall (Alyson Brody).

8. Cleaning Up After Globalization: An Ergonomic Analysis of Work Activity of Hotel Cleaners (Ana Maria Seifert and Karen Messing).

9. Work Design and the Labouring Body: Examining the Impacts of Work Organization on Danish Cleaners' Health (Karen Sogaard, Anne Katrine Blangsted, Andrew Herod and Lotte Finsen).

10. Introduction: Cleaners' Agency (Andrew Herod and Luis L M Aguiar).

11. Cleaners' Organizing in Britain from the 1970s: A Personal Account (Sheila Rowbotham).

12. The Privatization of Health Care Cleaning Services in Southwestern British Columbia, Canada: Union Responses to Unprecedented Government Actions (Marcy Cohen).

13. Justice for Janitors: Scales of Organizing and Representing Workers (Lydia Savage).

Notes on Contributors.

Index.
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Luis L.M. Aguiar researches neoliberalism and its impact on immigrant and minority workers in the Canadian building-cleaning industry. In addition, he writes on whiteness, racism and growing up immigrant in Montreal. At the moment, he is studying the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and its changing hinterland status in the global economy. A research project on janitors’ internationalism is in development, as is a study of former Canadian boxing champion Eddie Melo and pop diva Nelly Furtado. He teaches globalization and labour, urban sociology, cultural studies, the sociology of tourism, racism, and qualitative methods.

Andrew Herod is Professor of Geography, Adjunct Professor of International Affairs, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, USA. He has written widely on issues of globalisation and labour politics. He is the author of: Labor Geographies: Workers and the Landscapes of Capitalism(2001), the editor of Organizing the Landscape: Geographical Perspectives on Labor Unionism (1998); and co-editor of Geographies of Power: Placing Scale(Blackwell Publishing 2002, with Melissa Wright) and of An Unruly World? Globalization, Governance and Geography (1998, with Gearóid Ó Tuathail, and Susan Roberts). He is presently writing a book on the global economy to be published by Blackwell Publishing.

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  • This book provides the first intensive study focusing on building cleaners and their global experiences.
  • Brings together an international group of scholars and experts to investigate different national contexts and examples.
  • Draws out important commonalities and highlights significant differences in these experiences.
  • Examines topics including erosion of cleaners' industrial citizenship rights, the impact of outsourcing upon their working conditions, economic security, and the intensification of their work and its negative effects on physical health.
  • Considers how cleaners are mobilizing to resist and respond to the restructuring of their work.
See More
"An important collection drawing attention to the invisible workers whose work it is to fashion the visible.... The debates raised in this volume could be developed in many directions and it is no bad thing that we are left wanting more." (Geographical Journal, September 2008)

“Outhwaite’s familiarity with his subject matter is unquestionable, as is his desire to cover it thoroughly, and the book will serve well as a guide for philosophers to the most important work done by theoretical sociologists on the nature of society.” (Philosophy In Review)

“The Dirty Work of Neoliberalism offers a varied and insightful examination of the global restructuring of the cleaning industry and its implications for workers and their struggles. It offers a good mix of more structural and poststructural perspectives on these processes and their inherently scalar nature. Moreover, many of its most effective chapters, such as those by Bezuidenhuit and Fakier, show how work and social reproduction are strongly interrelated.” (Annals of the Association of American Geographers)

"Subcontracted cleaners are on the front line of contemporary capitalism. This important collection celebrates their labour, their humanity and their resistance."
Jane Wills, Queen Mary, University of London

"In this excellent collection Aguiar and Herod capture the global dimension of a mundane type of work that until recently was invisible to most observers but which has recently emerged as a key node of new organizing. As the articles in this volume demonstrate, all the classic issues that have sparked labor protest throughout the history of capitalism are present in the work of cleaners - wages, working conditions, health and safety, and perhaps most important, human dignity."
–Ruth Milkman, University of California, Los Angeles

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