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University of Bath

International & Interdisciplinary Research Network: Labour in Transition (LITTINet)

A project seeking out affirmative and proactive collective strategies that are attempting to reorganise work and life beyond employment for social change.

Changing global economies

The global neo-liberal restructuring and the 2008 financial crisis has transformed capitalist work. They have also weakened the relationship between employment and the reproduction of daily life, or ‘social reproduction’. This has resulted in a marked increase in unsecure employment.

Where this has, it has challenged the sustainability of formal waged employment. This means that the forms of citizenship and welfare that support the survival and social reproduction of urban communities are also challenged. Consequently, informal employment in many places has become normalised, and can be related to a range of activities undertaken by social actors that are attempting to address this crisis.

Impact on the global South

The global transformation of work has been more devastating in the global South and has increased levels of unemployment and poverty. In places where the break down between employment and social reproduction has been most extreme, the issue of how to ensure survival has been forced back on urban communities and the organisation of ‘work’ has moved beyond formal boundaries.

Survival strategies

In the cities of the South, the organisation of new productive activities beyond the formal workplace have become linked with issues such as poverty, hardship and exclusion. This has resulted in collective actions on issues such as housing, food, land, education and health. These ‘survival strategies’ are increasingly spreading to areas of the Global North, as formal employment opportunities have been undermined by the impact of the global crisis and austerity policies.

We believe that these alternatives are a source of knowledge and experience that can feed into alternative forms of policy.

Positive steps forward

Our work focuses on capturing some of the positive and proactive collective strategies that attempt to reorganise work and life beyond employment. We seek to understand the transformatory role of the social actors involved in these projects and initiatives. In addition, we look at the ways these emerging forms of ‘work’ outside employment, including cultural production, contribute to the social reproduction and re-imagination of communities.

Project outputs

  • Publications in English and Translation
  • Exhibitions
  • Website
  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • ESRC grant application: Beyond Informality: Organising life and work in urban spaces

Project team