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Work and politics in Brazil and the United States: the precariat's displacement since the 2008 economic crisis and through the current pandemic moment

Grant number: 21/06524-8
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2022
Effective date (End): April 30, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Sociology
Principal Investigator:Ruy Gomes Braga Neto
Grantee:Ruy Gomes Braga Neto
Host Investigator: Paul Clark
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Pennsylvania State University, United States  


This research project aims to map the reconfiguration of outsourced workers' collective identities from the great recession that started in 2008 to the deepened social crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. I will build a comparative analysis between the global North and South, parting from the idea of "frontier struggles" (N. Fraser) involving poor workers in Brazil and the United States. In Brazil, I will focus on two case studies. In the first I will examine the platform economy of outsourced work and the deconstruction of the Fordist wage relationship, highlighting frontier conflicts between protected workers and out-of-necessity popular "entrepreneurs" in Sao Paulo city. In the second I will analyze the "Emancipa," a Brazilian network of popular educators, in order to explore the conflicts between city center and periphery workers from the perspective of Black youth. In the U.S. case, I will explore the deconstruction of the Fordist pact and weakening of union power after the white working class's social expulsion from the American dream. The emphasis will be on the Rust Belt region, where workers face deindustrialization driven by neoliberal globalization and have been excluded from stable jobs and forced to work in precarious workplaces without union representation or collective bargaining Then, I will compare white worker's marginalization and mobilization to the success of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, whose campaign revolves around the defense of Black communities against violence, the social exclusion of Black workers, and poverty. In both cases, the project will emphasize conflicts linked to the resistance of poor working-class communities and families facing the threats posed by precarious work and the economic and health crises that threatens their social reproduction. In summary, the goal of this research is to test the hypothesis that there has been a reconfiguration of class identities at a global level due to the struggles between black and white workers, protected and informal workers, native and immigrant workers, in addition to workers that have become economically exploited and expelled from labor rights protections. (AU)

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