Mobile with an agency : Negotiating the spatiotemporalities of the temp migrant worker


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Publication Details

Author list: Zampoukos, Kristina

Publisher: Elsevier

Publication year: 2018

Start page: 40

End page: 47

Number of pages: 8

ISSN: 0016-7185

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2018.05.003


Several calls have been made by labour geographers in support for a more thorough investigation and theorization of labour as an active agent in the production of economic geographies. The present paper responds to this challenge by examining how Swedish agency warehouse workers and temp nurses working in Norway act and think in relation to mobility and how certain spatiotemporalities come into play in the mobility agency of individual workers. Though we are particularly concerned with the ambiguities involved in the relationship between mobility, agency and power, a second objective is to contribute to the theorization of how space and time matters to mobile workers. Drawing on data from twenty interviews with Swedish temp nurses and six focus group interviews with Swedish agency warehouse workers, and by combining several strands of literature ranging from current research on mobilities and migration to the work of classical scholars in geography and sociology, we propose that a ‘trialectics of spatiotemporalities’ is part and parcel of workers’ mobility agency. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the purposive agency as emphasized for instance by the notion of ‘mobility strategy’ needs to be complemented by a conceptualization of agency that includes what we term (erratic) probing. We conclude that labour mobility may be strategic and a sign of power, but not always and everywhere, and not in any pure sense.


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