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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Siobhán McGrath

DeFilippis, James, Martin, Nina, Bernhardt, Annette & McGrath, Siobhán On the Characteristics and Organization of Unregulated Work in Cities of the United States. Urban Geography. 2009;30:63-90.

Author(s) from Durham


In this article, we analyze the routine violations of employment and labor laws—what we call "unregulated work"—in New York City and Chicago. In these jobs workers are paid less than the minimum wage, are subject to unsafe working conditions, and are fired for attempting to organize. These violations have become a routine part of the organization of production in industries that range from restaurants to construction to laundries to child care. Unregulated work has become a staple in U.S. urban economies and labor markets. In the context of deindustrialization in U.S. cities, these are the jobs that have grown in importance in metropolitan areas. And their role in providing the goods of collective consumption places them at the heart of what is producing "the urban" in contemporary capitalism. Despite this significance, not enough has been done to systematically document and understand unregulated work as it exists across diverse industries. This article begins the process of filling this significant gap in the literature.