Shannon Gleeson examines the process of making rights real for low-wage workers. Gleeson focuses on the function of the labor standards enforcement bureaucracy from the perspective of workers who have come forward to make a claim against their employer. Through her research Gleeson asks, What propels a worker to come forward and file a claim, given all the evidence we know about the barriers to claims-making? What shapes the legal consciousness of workers, and how do lay conceptions of justice differ from what is inscribed in the law? Where does the system fall apart for aggrieved workers, and why, even in the best of circumstances, do workers often remain unprotected? Gleeson aims to redirect attention away from the claims-process itself, to think also about the impacts of workplace violations on the economic precarity and emotional well-being of low-wage workers and their families, particularly for immigrant and undocumented claimants.
Shannon Gleeson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Labor Relations, Law & History at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School. Previously she was Associate Professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her PhD in 2008 in Sociology and Demography from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on the workplace experiences of immigrants, the role of documentation status, and forms of legal mobilization. She has also conducted research on immigrant civic engagement and the bureaucratic processes of labour standards enforcement. Gleeson’s work has been published in Latino Studies, Law & Social Inquiry, Law & Society Review, International Migration, and Social Science & Medicine. Her book Conflicting Commitments: The Politics of Enforcing Immigrant Worker Rights in San Jose and Houston was published in 2012 by Cornell University Press. She is currently working on a book that examines the promises and failures of U.S. labour and employment law, the challenges low-wage workers face when they come forward to file a claim, and their experiences in fighting for justice.
Audio | Shannon Gleeson