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  • Author or Editor: Chris Smith x
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An expanded use of agency workers has followed a series of economic shocks in the UK since the 2008 financial crisis. Agency workers, unlike permanent workers, comprise a wide range of workers without regular, secure and long-term employment relations. In this article we examine the inherently contradictory employment relationship embodied by agency workers, namely employers’ wish to stabilise and make the workforce more predictable by bringing in agency workers under insecure and unstable employment terms. Based on a significant single case study of a distribution centre, the study compares two agency work regimes: one with systematic screening and employment of pre-formed workers, and the other with strong normative control over fragmented under-formed workers. The study details management strategies aimed to improve workforce stability in the more fragmented agency worker regime by bringing an employment intermediatory on-site, building coherency between the permanent and agency workers, and restraining the supervisor’s power of dismissal. These findings problematise framing agency employment based on an assumption of continuous and selective inflow of migrant workers. Rather, contrasting agency worker regimes demonstrates contested employment relations between an increasingly diverse group of agency workers and an employer seeking to instigate predictability and coherency in agency employment.

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Developing bodies of work in interdisciplinary dementia research are engaging with concepts of place and spatiality as they relate to the everyday experience of living with dementia (Clarke and Bailey, 2016; Odzakovic et al, 2018). Rather than focus on the ‘dis-abilities’ of a person and their effect on navigation or wayfinding, these works have looked first to understand environmental barriers and to improve the enabling characteristics of environments – through features such as signage, pathways and distinctiveness (Mitchell and Burton, 2010). Building upon understanding the role of material geographies is work that engages with more progressive understandings of neighbourhoods as spaces of lived experience, belonging and relational ties (Ward et al, 2018; Clark et al, 2020). This evolving understanding of the vital importance of place and space for people with dementia is in contrast to a spatial literature where the relationship of people with dementia to space was pathologised – for example the reframing of the everyday practice of walking as a form of deviant wandering (Brittain et al, 2017). Rather than support mobility, a pathologising spatial lens problematises outdoor mobility for people with dementia as a health and safety risk and a social burden (MacAndrew et al, 2018). For those receiving a dementia diagnosis, notions like ‘prescribed dis-engagement’ (Swaffer, 2015) can foreclose possibilities for continuing involvement in the everyday spaces of community life.

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