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Who Cleans the Park?Public Work and Urban Governance in New York City$
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John Krinsky and Maud Simonet

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780226435442

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226435619.001.0001

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The Work

The Work

(p.67) Three The Work
Who Cleans the Park?

John Krinsky

Maud Simonet

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 3 considers what work is involved in cleaning parks (from picking up trash to gardening, from shoveling snow to cleaning bathrooms) and how this work is divided across the different types of park, types of park-management agencies (i.e., public or private), the different seasons, and across the different types of workers. We begin with a description of the variety of tasks involved in cleaning parks, and in composing the jobs people do. We then focus on the logics driving the division of tasks within the park worksites and the park workforce. We show that in contrast to the mainly male fixed post “parkies” who used to characterize the Parks Department staff and who were not largely defined by the “dirty work” necessarily involved in their tasks, some categories of workers--mostly poor Black and Latina women--are now assigned specific tasks: the ones closer to domestic and polluted work. With the paradoxical specialization of parks maintenance through the combination of broadbanding and segmentation discussed in Chapter 1, a new hierarchy of tasks matches roughly to existing social hierarchies of race and gender.

Keywords:   cleaning, gardening, division of labor, dirty work, social hierarchies

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