Expanding labour geographies: resourcefulness and organising amongst ‘unemployed workers’

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Abstract

This paper will consider the enduring acts of care, support and activism associated with unemployment in the North East and Midlands regions of England. It will draw upon literature relating to unemployment, labour geography and feminist economic geography to illuminate different forms of agency and resourcefulness found within the examples considered. The paper engages with Unemployed Workers’ Centres in Newcastle upon Tyne and Chesterfield, focusing mostly upon their activities in response to UK austerity policies. These centres provide advice and support for unemployed people, particularly those who may be facing difficulties, such as work capability assessments, tribunals and debt. This supporting role is complimented by the campaigning activities of volunteers within these groups that actively contest related issues, including campaigns relating to zero-hour contracts, organising against austerity policies and wider educational projects as part of a relationship with Unite Community. The paper suggests that the associated organising practices indicate a varied and sustained form of unemployed political agency that articulates and contests multiple unemployed grievances. This engagement with a wider political realm, alongside the intimate acts of support and care found within the centres, suggests a more nuanced and agentic understanding of unemployed resistance within an austerity context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalGeoforum
Volume118
Early online date19 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021

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