chapter  3
Re-embedding the Agency of Labour
ByNeil M. Coe, David C. Jordhus-Lier
Pages 12

Labour Geography can be hard to pin down. It is perhaps best described as a loose coalition of like-minded individuals united by a desire to reveal the multiple geographies that underpin the everyday worlds of work and employment. Chiefly anchored in economic geography, Labour Geographers are also to be found in the sub-disciplines of socio-cultural, political, population and feminist geography. Castree (2008) has identified Labour Geography’s five ‘signature characteristics’ as: a concern with all things geographical; a defence of worker agency; a lack of clear analytical boundaries; an open-minded theoretical sensibility and a Leftleaning political stance. It is possible to discern three distinct strands within the literature, each of which is underpinned by its own bodies of theory. The first has been concerned with the collective organization of workers through labour unions and the reassertion of the potential agency of these groupings (see for instance Herod 1997, Wills 1998). Another has theorized the formation of geographicallyspecific local labour markets/regimes and their ongoing regulation and segmentation (see for instance Hanson and Pratt 1995, Peck 1996). The third has explored the intersections of employment relations with other facets of personal and workplace identity, most notably gender and ethnicity (see for instance McDowell 1997, Wright 1997). In this context, Peck (2008) has aptly described Labour Geography’s internal structure as ‘cellular’, there being few conversations across the three approaches and with each being more strongly tied to debates and literatures outside the discipline of geography, e.g. industrial relations and working class studies with respect to the first strand.