Health and safety in garment workers’ lives: Setting a new research agenda

Rebecca Prentice (Lead Author), Geert De Neve, Alessandra Mezzadri, Kanchana N Ruwanpura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amidst new global initiatives to promote garment workers’ health and safety following a spate of deadly factory disasters across the Global South, this critical review calls for an expanded research agenda that looks beyond the workplace to examine the complex politics, spatialities, and temporalities of garment workers’ health and wellbeing. Drawing on ethnographic research on garment workers across South Asia, we argue against a narrow, technocratic, and depoliticised emphasis on physical infrastructures and building safety, and advocate instead a more holistic and politically-engaged research approach to the everyday health and wellbeing of workers. A conceptual focus on health and wellbeing offers a window onto workers’ employment experiences and reveals how routine work pressures, exhaustion and ill health are shaped by the dynamics of global supply chains, even well after workers have disengaged from these global circuits. Understanding how garment work affects workers’ wellbeing and their prospects for a fulfilling life requires research that moves beyond the workplace and covers the entire life course.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-160
Number of pages3
Issue numberJanuary 2018
Early online date22 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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