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The Crisis of Social Reproduction among Migrant Workers: Interrogating the Role of Migrant Civil Society

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Abstract:  Transformations in urban economies are leading to the growth of jobs where labor and employment laws are routinely violated. Workers in these jobs are subject to harsh conditions such as low wages, hazardous work sites, and retaliation for speaking up. Many of these workers are undocumented migrants who are in a weak position to make demands on their employers or to request government assistance. These workers often turn to migrant civil society organizations for help with the multiple conflicts they face at work. Drawing on case studies of nonprofit organizations in Chicago, this paper focuses on the role of such organizations in the social reproduction of the migrant workforce. I posit that such organizations are integral to the functioning of the informal economy because the wide range of programs and services that they provide are essential to the social reproduction of migrant workers.

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