Across the world, workers labor without pay for the benefit of profitable businesses—and it's legal. Labor trends like outsourcing and technology hide some workers, and branding and employer mandates erase others. Invisible workers who remain under-protected by wage laws include retail workers who function as walking billboards and take payment in clothing discounts or prestige; waitstaff at “breastaurants” who conform their bodies to a business model; and inventory stockers at grocery stores who go hungry to complete their shifts. Invisible Labor gathers essays by prominent sociologists and legal scholars to illuminate how and why such labor has been hidden from view.
Marion G. Crain is Vice Provost, Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law, and Director for the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Work and Social Capital at Washington University.
Miriam A. Cherry is Professor of Law at Saint Louis University.
Winifred R. Poster is a Stanford-trained sociologist affiliated with Washington University.
"This outstanding edited volume goes beyond previous works on invisible labor by providing a more nuanced conceptualization, examining a wide range of workplace contexts both domestic and transnational, and exploring the legal ramifications of hidden workers. All these elements will be incredibly useful for graduates, undergraduates, and anyone else interested in the subject matter."—Jennifer Pierce, author of Racing for Innocence: Whiteness, Gender, and the Backlash against Affirmative Action
"A terrific collection full of insights that will engage specialists, students, and the general reader alike. Although the authors do not claim to have discovered hidden work, they bring its analysis up to date for the twenty-first century's networked and globalized world of work. They draw attention to the many forms of invisibility—where work is hidden from consumers, managers, and workers themselves—and degrees of obscurity. Drawing on a range of disciplines and vivid ethnographic studies that criss-cross the globe and sectors of employment, the authors document the centrality and ubiquity of invisible labor. The emphasis on race and ethnicity with respect to the service sector in the U.S. is particularly welcome. A focus on formal employment relations strengthens the argument, which is further enhanced by a succinct editorial introduction and conclusion, which provide an overarching analytical framework linking the diverse empirical chapters. Resonating with our everyday experiences of life, this is a lively and thought-provoking volume."—Miriam Glucksmann, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of Essex