Accepted paper:

Ordinary work: Life and labour in a Ugandan marketplace

Authors:

William Monteith (Queen Mary University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to contribute to a collective re-theorisation of work outside of wage labour by offering analytical insights into the organisation of life and labour in a central marketplace in Kampala, Uganda.

Paper long abstract:

The global urban majority makes a living outside of wage labour. Yet, when looking to make sense of socioeconomic life in African towns and cities, researchers continue to foreground concepts derived from the historical experiences of wage workers in the global North, such as precarity and informality. As a consequence, we risk homogenising the diverse forms of life and labour that are characteristic of urban African economies, and their potential contribution to a world beyond work. This paper seeks to contribute to a collective re-theorisation of work outside of the wage by offering analytical insights into the organisation of life and labour in a central marketplace in Kampala, Uganda. Combining ethnographic and archival material, I argue that people's activities in the market conform to logics of redistribution rather than production, blurring the lines between economy and society, work and care. Inspired by the recent comparative turn in urban geography, I maintain that we should consider these activities forms of 'ordinary work' that have been shaped by the particular history of capitalism - among other theories of value - in the region.

panel Econ17
Disrupting the wage: post-work futures within and beyond Africa