Transgressive vs conformative: immigrant women learning at contingent work

Maitra, S. and Shan, H. (2007) Transgressive vs conformative: immigrant women learning at contingent work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 19(5), pp. 286-295. (doi: 10.1108/13665620710757842)

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Purpose: The paper seeks to explore workers' learning in relation to the racialized and gendered organization of contingent work. Design/methodology/approach: This paper is informed by Marxist theorization of labour power and learning. It draws on the interview data of 24 highly educated immigrant women from the research project “Skilled In Vulnerability: Work‐related Learning Amongst Contingent Workers”. Findings: The two types of learning that we have identified include conformative and transgressive learning. Conformative learning refers to the learning that workers engage in to conform to the workplace expectations. The workers are not rewarded or acknowledged for their learning endeavors, and their efforts end up being appropriated by employers to maximize surplus value. Transgressive learning refers to the learning initiatives undertaken by workers to challenge and transcend the depressing work environment and life conditions. Research limitations/implications: – This research was not able to capture what conditions facilitate transgressive learning versus conformative learning. Practical implications: The study first calls on the state to deal with the systemic negation of professional immigrants' previous skills and learning experiences. Second, it encourages employers to provide appropriate training and reward the workers for their learning endeavor. Third, drawing on the research findings, work educators could help foster the forms of learning that are conducive to workers' better control of work and life. The authors also suggest that to optimize their work and life opportunities in general, immigrant women workers need to come together, exchange information and knowledge, learn from each other, and form collective actions amongst themselves. Originality/value: This paper contributes to the literature on workplace learning from a learning perspective. It is one of the first endeavors to look at how highly educated immigrant women learn to exercise agency to challenge contingent work structures.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Maitra, Professor Srabani
Authors: Maitra, S., and Shan, H.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Culture, Literacies, Inclusion & Pedagogy
Journal Name:Journal of Workplace Learning

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