Conflicting discourses of rapport and co-membership

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Immigrant workers seeking employment through informal day labor networks must continually reinvent themselves in rapid-fire job interviews with potential employers. In these gatekeeping encounters, employers and workers use various techniques to construct rapport and co-membership. Drawing on ethnographic research with Latino workers, employers, and their intermediaries (language brokers) in Tucson, Arizona, my findings suggest that it is possible for employers to manipulate rapport and co-membership to demonstrate solidarity or, conversely, to justify workers’ mistreatment. This chapter builds on previous literature on gatekeeping encounters (Fiksdal 1990; Kerekes 2006) that examined interviewees’ strategies for influencing interview outcomes. By focusing on the discursive techniques employers use (e.g. linguistic accommodation), I argue that the semiotic resources of rapport and co-membership may be used to demarcate social distance or exploit vulnerable workers.


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