Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Speaker: Dr Hannah Schling
Venue: City Centre Seminar Room (Bancroft 2.07)
Dr Hannah Schling, Lecturer in Human Geography
Fungibility and social difference: (re)producing differential 'disposability' of migrant workers in the Czech Republic's manufacturing sector
The notion of labouring 'disposability' raises questions about how temporalities of labour are (i) grounded within the broader existential organisation of social reproduction; and (ii) gendered and racialised (Wright 2006). The notion of labouring 'disposability' is predicated upon the ideological and material terrain of 'labour power' as replaceable, fungible commodity. In the Czech manufacturing sector, agency workers on short-term contracts are cycled through taylorised production lines, housed in temporary employer-controlled dormitory accommodation, and frequently refer to employers as treating them "like machines". However, at the same time, the labour regime operates through the active segmentation of workers along lines of nationality, racialised and gendered 'foreignness', and migration status; whilst in turn workers' everyday social relations within employer-provided dormitory accommodation actively (re)produce multiplied lines of hierarchical social difference. Drawing on feminist political economy within geography, the paper seeks to address Werner et al's (2017) intervention that “capitalism is reproduced through logics and practices that create and marshal difference into its categories of value." As such, a core intervention of this paper is to argue that the real 'fungibility' of labour is intimately related to the concrete social (re)production of inequality, gender and 'race'. This proposition will be presented through examination of migrant workers at Foxconn electronics manufacturer in Pardubice, Czech Republic.