Ex-com trash pickers create a new worker identity

The goal of this paper is to reflect on and understand how ex-con trash pickers in the city of Fortaleza established a new worker identity through socially stigmatized unstable employment. Both bibliographical-documentary research and an ethnographical inspiration study were carried out, using direct observation and semi-structured interviews as tools. The results indicate unstable working conditions and conflicts with the "deposeiros" (recycling center owners), who exploit the trash pickers in every way possible. People regard these workers as dangerous, dirty bums, and their working and living conditions are riddled with exploitation, conflict and prejudice. The narratives of these recycled people for justice reveal a strong identity with the refuse that they collect. In their quest for reentry to society and reconstruction of identity, some of them admitted to illicit practices or recidivism, thereby demonstrating the fragility of the system, which attempts to recycle them and include them in a precarious manner.

Work; Identity; Instability; Trash Pickers; Ex-Cons


Universidade Federal da Bahia - Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas - Centro de Recursos Humanos Estrada de São Lázaro, 197 - Federação, 40.210-730 Salvador, Bahia Brasil, Tel.: (55 71) 3283-5857, Fax: (55 71) 3283-5851 - Salvador - BA - Brazil
E-mail: revcrh@ufba.br