Worker Cooperatives’ Potential for Migrant Women‘s Self-Empowerment. Insights from a Case Study in New York City

Komposch, Nora; Pohl, Nicholas; Riaño, Yvonne (June 2021). Worker Cooperatives’ Potential for Migrant Women‘s Self-Empowerment. Insights from a Case Study in New York City (nccr – on the move, Working Paper series 29). Neuchâtel: National Center of Competence in Research

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Many migrant women in New York City face structural discrimination and administrative hurdles that complicate their access to safe and well-paid labor. Worker cooperatives have been shown to reduce the precarity and economic exclusion of marginalized groups. However, although much is known about worker cooperatives’ economic potential for improving workers’ lives, other social effects remain far less well explored. The present research contributes to exploring this gap by examining how joining a worker cooperative empowers migrant women in their everyday lives. We apply the concept of self-empowerment to several spheres of the everyday lives of migrant women. At an empirical level, the study focuses on migrant women who are members of nine cleaning- or care-worker cooperatives in New York City. The data were gathered using a participatory research approach and consist of interviews, participant observations, and a quantitative survey. The findings are that worker cooperatives have empowering effects on migrant women beyond the sphere of paid work. Although the additional unpaid workload as co-owners of cooperatives represents an extra burden for many migrant women, they now have better wages, more flexibility, and safer workplaces. Furthermore, they acquire a range of leadership skills, enlarge their social network beyond their ethnic communities, and earn increased esteem as co-owners of businesses. Through worker-ownership, migrant women thus increase their economic, cultural, social, and symbolic capital, which enables them to exercise more agency not only in their paid work but also in their families and leisure time.

Item Type:

Working Paper

Division/Institute:

08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography > Unit Cultural Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Human Geography

Graduate School:

Graduate School Gender Studies

UniBE Contributor:

Komposch, Nora Helen

Subjects:

900 History > 910 Geography & travel

Series:

nccr – on the move, Working Paper series

Publisher:

National Center of Competence in Research

Language:

English

Submitter:

Nora Helen Komposch

Date Deposited:

22 Jul 2021 09:50

Last Modified:

22 Jul 2021 09:50

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/157226

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/157226

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