Night Working

Nightworkers, who move in the night as a means of earning a living, remain largely invisible from mainstream society, pandemic times or not. Yet their fears, uncertainties and acts of courage are equally revealing of what it means to be mobile in times of immobility and into the darkness. Aside the associated themes, we invite the group workers to discern how moving in the night as a means to work connects or separates the nightworkers from the rest of the society. And in broader terms, to engage with the question: When society sleeps, who must remain awake to keep cities open 24/7?


This group aims for an experience-near and on-the-ground ethnography of cities, night workplaces, and the night workers within these localities. It explores three inter-related strands: (1) doing research on night work; (2) difficulties posed by working at night; (3) possible futures of night work

  • Past legacies, such as diurnal ethnography are the dominant points of reference in research. Here, we will be testing and navigating in the darkness with the nocturnal non-/participant observation to examine the complex subjectivities of nightshift workers (migrants or locals). Nonetheless, nocturnal fieldwork puts great strain on the ethnographer’s diurnal life. Both, the corporeality on the ethnographer’s body and mind, and the methodological puzzles that awaits her/him will be explored, also addressing the difficulties of capturing images and sonic realities at night.
  • Instead of night revellers, who are familiar characters in the public imagination, we look at those less visible individuals who spend their nights at work or on the street. In post-industrial, 24/7 societies night work is done mostly by migrants — we are particularly interested in EU workers travelling to work from eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania), Turkey or other third-country nationals, as well as low and middle-income countries into developed, 24/7 societies.
  • In the pandemic context, nocturnal fieldwork is unlikely to return to ‘normal’ soon. I build on my experience in using digital methods to produce films and podcasts, and on social research agenda proposed by anthropologist Deborah Lupton. Hence, the following key questions asked within these workshops will address how to continue fieldwork in a post covid world; they could also serve as prompts for discussion:
    • In what ways digital methods (smartphone applications and respondents’ audio-visual diaries and the visual components) could provide the methodological framework to research in the new, post-covid context, where face to face research is becoming problematic?
    • What research methods can we use to understand more-than-just representational dimensions of people’s lived experiences?
    • Which of the relevant attributes can be captured by combining embodied research with cyber tools to reach out to social groups that experience marginalisation or focus on their wellbeing?


Modalities and training

  • TBC

Leader: Julius-Cezar MacQuarie

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