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‘Just-in-time’ labour: the role of transnational businesses in shaping temporalities of migration - Seminar Series talk

Rutvica Andrijasevic, University of Bristol Business School, UK
Monday, November 28, 2022, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

'Just-in-time’ labour:

the role of transnational businesses in shaping temporalities of migration

Of recent, migration scholarship has begun to explore the relationship between migration, time and capitalism. What remains largely unaddressed is the role transnational corporations and their business models are playing in shaping temporalities of migration. In this talk I aim to take forward the current discussions on migration, time and capitalism by bringing two distinct bodies of scholarship to bear on migration studies. First, I build on insights from Organisation Studies to show how, within transnationally organised circuits of production, transnational corporations pursue profitability and efficiency by synchronizing the supply of labour with time of production. I refer to this model as ‘just-in-time labour’ so to suggest that firms treat migrant workers according to the logic of just-in-time assembly, that is, attempt to acquire the type of workers needed, at the time needed, and in the quantity needed. Second, I draw on feminist sociological theories to show how the method of just-in-time operationalizes an economic-utilitarian notion of time. I show how such notion decontextualizes time from the flux of everyday life and from social relations of reproduction. I illustrate both aspects of my argument empirically by drawing on the original data I gathered via interviews with migrant workers in electronics manufacturing in Central and Eastern Europe. I thus demonstrate how the just-in-time logic is reshaping migration flows into shorter and quicker migration circuits while at the same time engendering forms of control over labour that are imbued within a normative gendered and sexual order.

Rutvica Andrijasevic is an Associate Professor of International Migration and Business at University of Bristol Business School, UK. She is an interdisciplinary scholar working in the areas of labour, migration and gender studies. Her most recent research examines the ‘platformisation of migration’ and how technology-centred business models drive particular forms of mobility and migration. Prior to that, she focused on the role of the states and their immigration and employment policies in fostering vulnerability and exploitation of migrant women in so-called human trafficking for sexual exploitation. Rutvica serves on the Board of Trustees of Electronics Watch, with the aim to achieve responsible public procurement and rights of workers in electronics supply chains. She is an associate editor of Organization, an editorial board member of Anti-Trafficking Review and a former editor of Feminist Review (2009-2020). Her work has wide international reach and her writings have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Czech, Polish, Greek, Croatian and Mandarin.

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