The Labor and Labor Movements section of the American Sociological Association has recognized “Day Labor Agencies, Backdoor Hires and the Spread of Unfree Labor,” by Gretchen Purser, with its 2020 Distinguished Scholarly Article Award. The article appeared in the July 2019 issue of the Anthropology of Work Review, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Work.
Purser is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and co-coordinator of the PARCC Labor Studies working group at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. Her award-winning article draws on ethnographic research carried out at day labor agencies in the U.S. cities of Baltimore and Oakland to examine how day laborers and agency dispatchers negotiate and navigate the practice of “backdoor” hiring, whereby employers hire workers from, but not through, these agencies.
Anthropology of Work Review coeditors Josh Fisher, Alex Nading, and Kathleen Millar commented: “We are very proud that Gretchen Purser’s article has received this award. Such interdisciplinary recognition is a testament to the article’s deeply textured ethnography, its probing analysis of covert hiring practices in the day labor industry, and its provocative arguments that convincingly challenge accepted understandings of informality, contingency, and what makes labor free or unfree. We offer a heartfelt congratulations to Gretchen for this much-deserved honor!”