Migrant labour as space: rhythmanalysing the agri-food industry

Celal Cahit Agar, Constantine Manolchev

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The UK agri-food industry is heavily dependent on migrant labour and, as result, the position and experiences of migrant workers have remained topics of research interest for over a decade. To date, a prolific body of research in the organisation studies literature has addressed the subordinate and exploited position of migrants against a backdrop of precarious terms and conditions of work. Studies have also extolled the scope for worker mobility and resistance, as well as explored the intersectional and non-reductive complexity of migrant life. Although offering valuable insights, these literatures present a disembedded portrayal of the agri-food industry, studying its regulatory provisions, everyday routines and work patterns in abstraction from the spaces within which they occur. Existing research has failed to recognise these processes as modes of space production, in line with Henri Lefebvre’s trialectic framework. This issue of Organization enables us to bring empirical and theoretical insights into this often neglected area, pertaining both to the study of migrant labour spaces and the identification of the rhythms through which these spaces are produced. Accordingly, our study combines Rudolf Laban’s ‘ontology of rhythm’ and Henri Lefebvre’s ‘rhythmanalysis’ methodology. Aided by our own positionality as former agri-food workers, we show how regulating, connecting and ‘dressage’ rhythms intersect agri-food space in a process of relational and multifaceted ‘ordering’, rather than static order. We contribute to the organisation studies literature by conceptualising the missing, spatial dimension in the agri-food migrant industry and demonstrating the value of rhythmanalysis as an underutilised methodology for its continued study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)251-271
    Issue number2
    Early online date23 Oct 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


    • Agri-food
    • Migrants
    • Rhythms
    • Space


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