Urbanization from Below

2013 – 2016
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This international collaborative research project aims to explore precarious employment in the construction trades of three cities: Toronto (Canada), Chiang Mai (Thailand) and London (UK). Reliance on migrants in construction industries in these cities is particularly high. Migrants include persons without national citizenship in the jurisdictions in which they work, who are very diverse in terms of their origins and migration trajectories.

Using a comparative framework, this research will look specifically at the parallel processes that have fashioned this reliance, and at the uneven character of social and economic risk borne by migrants embedded in urban growth, city-building and construction labour markets. It will examine (1) the factors that have shaped the reliance of construction industries on migrant workers; (2) the experiences of migrants in construction; and (3) the role that migrant construction workers play in processes of contemporary urbanization. In doing so, it will explore how precarious (and often low-waged and low-status) forms of construction work fit within the political economies of urbanization.

Principal Investigator

Michelle Buckley (University of Toronto Scarborough)


Bridget Anderson
Emily Reid-Musson (University of Toronto Scarborough)
Raluca Bejan (University of Toronto Scarborough)


Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada