Brandon Ellem. 2015. "Geographies of the Labour Process: Automation and the Spatiality of Mining", Work, Employment and Society, published online 18 September 2015: doi: 10.1177/0950017015604108.
Abstract: Productive ways of thinking about work have emerged from the recent engagement between scholars in employment relations and human geography without any sustained attention to the spatiality of the labour process itself. Arguing that where work literally ‘takes place’ is important, this article explores the spatial nature of the labour process through an examination of automation in one of the world’s largest transnational mining companies, Rio Tinto. To read the labour process in spatial terms, work must be understood in the context of global production networks, the peculiarities of national ‘space economies’ and arguments about the claimed ‘hyper-mobility’ of globalized capital as well as labour geography itself. In this case, automation and a reworking of the geography of the labour process in an industry often seen as constrained by physical geography have implications for assessing labour’s agency and power amid more general changes to the spatiality of work.