Social Reproduction and Urban Competitiveness: How Dominican Bodegueros Use the Care Economy

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Abstract

Drawn from a larger project examining immigration and economic redevelopment in Philadelphia, this article examines the way bodegas (small neighborhood-based variety stores) challenge relations of competitiveness inherent in neoliberal urban development. I argue that while the rhetoric of competition and entrepreneurialism abound in discussions of urban development, ethnographic research in urban neighborhoods suggest that the caring labor of social reproduction also plays a strong role in how immigrant communities establish themselves and neighborhoods develop. I use the experience of bodegueros to demonstrate how care operates to support families, businesses, and communities within the competitive, neoliberal city. I argue care work is often juxtaposed with neoliberalism, while in reality this is a false dichotomy. Urban neoliberalism is undergirded with care labor, and it is central to the institutionalization of bodegas within urban neighborhoods as it helps sustain neighborhoods and supports the upward mobility of families who work in bodegas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-294
Number of pages23
JournalCity and Society
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Keywords

  • Care
  • Immigrant
  • Philadelphia
  • Social reproduction

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