The Political Economy of St. Catharines' Illicit Taxi Trade
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The global restructuring of production has led to increasingly precarious working conditions around the world. Post-industrial work is characterized by poor working conditions, low wages, a lack of social protection and political representation and little job security. Unregulated forms of work that are defined as “irregular” or “illegal”, or in some cases “criminal,” are connected to sweeping transformations within the broader regulated (formal) economy. The connection between the formal and informal sectors can more accurately be described as co-optation and, as a subordinate integration of the informal to the formal. The city of St. Catharines within Niagara, along with much of Ontario’s industrial heartland, has been hard hit by deindustrialization. The rise of this illegal service is thus viewed against the backdrop of heavy economic restructuring, as opportunities for work in the manufacturing sector have become sparse. In addition, this research also explores the paradoxical co-optation of the growing illicit taxi economy and consequences for racialized and foreign credentialed labour in the taxi industry. The overall objective of this research is to explore the illicit cab industry as not only inseparable from the formal economy, but dialectically, how it is as an integrated and productive element of the public and private transportation industry. Furthermore the research examines what this co-optation means in the context of a labour market that is split by race.