Constrained agency? Re-evaluating the geographies of labour

Neil M. Coe, David C. Jordhus-Lier, 2010

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SAGE Journals

Summary & key words

This article critically evaluates the concept of labour agency. First, we briefly reprise structure/agency debates in human geography in order to distil how agency is best conceived. Second, we propose a more discerning approach to labour agency that unpacks its many spatial and temporal dimensions. Third, we develop a ‘re-embedded’ notion of labour agency and identify global production networks, the state, the community and labour market intermediaries as key arenas for consideration. The paper argues that worker strategies must always be assessed in relation to these wider social relations, suggesting a constrained, variegated notion of labour agency.


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