eISSN: 2450-5722
ISSN: 2450-5927
Journal of Health Inequalities
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vol. 5
Special paper

Invisible migrants: A micro-ethnographic account of bodily exhaustion amongst migrant manual labourers working the graveyard shift at New Spitalfields Market in London

Julius-Cezar MacQuarie
1, 2

  1. Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, University of Babes-Bolyai, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  2. Centre for Policy Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
J Health Inequal 2019; 5 (2): 198-202
Online publish date: 2019/12/30
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This article reports data collected during an ethnographic research project conducted in the New Spitalfields wholesale night market in London. It foregrounds and analyses the portraits of two protagonists and triangulates them with data collected in the wider project. This micro analysis reveals that low-skilled workers (loaders, drivers, cleaners, servers) of the night market engage in physical labour tasks to maintain a 24/7 city’s economy appetite round-the-clock. The night workers’ somatic experiences, rhythmic bodily labour that constitutes the workers’ bodily capital, are discussed on the backdrop of challenges that they face while working the “graveyard” shift. The paper relays the workers’ individual characteristics, such as the physical and mental abilities to endure and embody the duress of night-shift work. This paper proposes that bodily exhaustion, alienation, and sleep deprivation are amongst the factors causing precarious migrant night workers to become bioautomatons who are awake and working around the clock.

bodily exhaustion, nightshift work, migrants, sleep despoliation

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