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Author

Amanda Wilson

Date of Award

9-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Work and Society

Supervisor

Donna Baines

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis is an exploration into the potential for worker cooperatives to be conceptualized and experienced as an alternative to precarious employment for immigrants and refugees. It argues that current analysis and responses to precarious employment fail to fully address the root causes of precarious employment and fail to suggest what forms of alternative employment relations we should be striving to build. It is argued that by tracing the roots of precarious employment to the organization of work, the worker cooperative model can be seen as a potential solution to these root problems. This hypothesis is explored through two case studies of immigrant worker cooperatives, analyzing the employment experiences of several of its members. It concludes that workers cooperatives appear to provide alternatives in the areas of control, security and social capital and empowerment. However, more work is needed to support and facilitate the development and sustainability of cooperatives in order to improve in the areas of wages and formal benefits. Despite the challenges of worker cooperatives, the author argues that they remain an important tool, invoking a politics of the act that seeks to build alternative spaces of employment without relying on government or employers.

McMaster University Library

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