"“I choose to be here”: Tensions between autonomy and precarity in craft market vendors’ work"
by Kovesi, Caroline; Kern, Leslie (2018)
Outdoor markets have emerged as key nodes in cities’ attempts to revitalize downtown areas through culture and consumption. However, few studies have investigated urban markets as sites of labor, or explored work conditions from the perspective of vendors themselves. As self-employed creative workers in a seasonal industry, artisan vendors experience various forms of economic insecurity related to precarity inherent to their line of work. This article investigates the experiences of artisan craft vendors in Ottawa’s popular ByWard Market. Through interviews with vendors, we explore themes such as artisan identity, relationships in the market, and economic and labor conditions. We argue that although precarity seems to be inherent in the vendors’ work conditions, it does not undermine their identities as artisans, in part because of the strong value attached to autonomous, creative work. This attachment may, however, hinder artisan vendors’ abilities to organize for structural changes that would mitigate their economic precarity.
KeywordsCrafts, Creative Work, Seasonal Work, Gig Economy, Autonomy
ThemesPrecarious Work, Goods of Work
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