Controlling the Job

Levels of organisation in casual labour
  • David Stymeist


A traditional sociological analysis of ethnicity in casual labour might begin with a discussion of the different ‘ethnic groups’ represented, proceed to an examination of the inter-relationships between members of those ‘groups’, and conclude with some historical speculations. If such a study were done in Toronto in the winter of 1975, it might note, as points of interest, that Chinese, Japanese and North American Indians were not represented at the calls; that most casual labourers were of central and southern European extraction, former inhabitants of the British Isles, East (Asian) and West Indians, or native Canadians; and that maritimers were considered by themselves and others as a distinct ethnic category. Statistical analysis would have generated statements about the ethnic origins of casual labourers: x per cent Irish, y per cent East Indian, and so on (as Pilcher, 1972). The study might also have noted that members of each major ethnic category occasionally associated with one another, that joking occurred between members of certain ethnic categories, but that between members of other categories it did not.


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Copyright information

© Social Science Research Council 1979

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  • David Stymeist

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