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School of Geography

The Post-Wage Economy: Re-theorising ‘work’ across the global North-South divide

28 June 2018 - 29 June 2018

Time: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Venue: Graduate Centre, Mile End campus, London E1 4NS

An interdisciplinary workshop hosted by the School of Geography and the Centre on Labour and Global Production (CLGP) at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).


The idea of wage labour as the locus of social status, economic security, and political entitlement was central to the historical project of modernity, which structured societies in the global North, and to a lesser extent the global South, for much of the 20th century. However, recent developments in the social and spatial organisation of production have facilitated the decline of wage labour in many regions of the world. (Ferguson 2015). Contrary to the assumptions of modernisation theory, it has recently been argued that experiences of work in the global North are becoming more like those in the global South, rather than the other way around (Breman & van der Linden 2014; Thieme 2017). Consequently, there is an urgent need to re-theorise work based on the experiences of people in the non-wage (or pre-industrial) economies of the global South, and the emergent post-wage (or post-industrial) economies of the global North.

This workshop proposes a comparative interdisciplinary discussion on emerging theories of work across the global North-South divide. This discussion will revisit the utility of influential concepts derived from the historical experiences of wage economies in Europe and North America – such as those of precarity (Munck 2013; Waite 2009) and informality (Harriss-White 2010; Ledeneva 2018). Furthermore, it will explore the potential of alternative and complimentary theories derived from the everyday experiences of men and women provisioning beyond waged labour in diverse economies (Gibson-Graham 2008).

Participants are invited to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the emerging drivers and conditions of the post-wage economy across the world? How are these features experienced locally (e.g. through workers’ relationship with the state, the market and the household)? What are the key geographies of difference?
  • To what extent are these conditions captured by dominant concepts of work, such as those of precarity and informality? What is the genealogy of these concepts? To what extent do they enable or restrict South-North comparison?
  • What alternative theories are emerging based on the experiences of people provisioning outside of waged labour? What possibilities do these theories provide for reconceptualising the social, political and spatio-temporal boundaries of ‘work’?

Call for papers

Please submit abstract submissions to Dr William Monteith ( by 30/03/2018.


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