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Seeing Work, Envisioning Citizenship


This short symposium essay surveys the relationships between identifying workers and identifying social citizens. We analyze worker status along dimensions of livelihood, production, discipline, and status. Each of these illuminates but also troubles the conventional conflation of work and employment. That trouble arises in part because an activity’s legibility as work often draws on racialized and gendered understandings of that activity and those who perform it, as in the case of domestic work. Understanding the constructed and contested nature of work both explicates and complicates the appeal of more inclusive accounts of work as a strategy of social inclusion.

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