Book Cover

Everyday Dirty Work

Invisibility, Communication, and Immigrant Labor

Wilfredo Alvarez

178 pp. 6 x 9
1 table
Pub Date: March, 2022

Subjects: Latinx & Latin American Studies
American Studies
Cultural Studies
Race & Ethnic Studies

Series: Global Latin/o Americas

Order Hardcover $139.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1467-1
Order Paperback $32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5826-2
Order PDF ebook$32.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8199-4

“With its focus on Latinx immigrant essential workers, Everyday Dirty Work could not be more timely. Alvarez’s centering of translinguistic communication in his ethnography is unprecedented, and the new perspectives he unearths on the intersections of race, class, occupation, language, and immigration status have clear, actionable implications for positive change.” —Joanne Belknap, author of The Invisible Woman: Gender, Crime, and Justice

Wilfredo Alvarez’s Everyday Dirty Work: Invisibility, Communication, and Immigrant Labor is an exploration into co-cultural communication practices within the workplace. Specifically, Alvarez investigates how Latin American immigrant janitors communicate from their marginalized standpoints in a predominantly White academic organization. He examines how custodial workers perceive, interpret, and thematize routine messages regarding race, ethnicity, social class, immigrant status, and occupation, and how those messages and overall communicative experiences affect both their work and personal lives.

A Latin American immigrant himself, Alvarez relates his own experiences to those of the research participants. His positionality informs and enhances his research as he demonstrates how everyday interpersonal encounters create discursive spaces that welcome or disqualify people based on symbolic and social capital. Alvarez offers valuable insights into the lived experiences of critical––but often undervalued and invisible––organizational members. Through theoretical insights and research data, he provides practical recommendations for organizational leaders to improve how they can relate to and support all stakeholders.

Author photo

Wilfredo Alvarez is Associate Professor of Communication and Media at Utica University.


Introduction    Communication in Everyday Life

            Arriving in Nuebayol

            Language, Communication, and the Immigrant Experience

            The Significance of Culture for Communicating (Identity)

            Key Communication Processes at Work

            Research Framework: Converging/Diverging Immigrant Realities

            Target Audiences, Objectives, and Organization of the Book

Chapter 1        Research Methods

            The Research Site: A Public Ivy in the Southwest

            Race Relations at RMU

            Mitigating Racism on Campus

            Access to the Site and Interest in the Study

            Positioning Myself as a Researcher

            Situating Work Experiences Within an Interpretive Framework

            Researcher’s Assumptions: My Story, Their Story, Our Story?

Chapter 2        Communicating at Work

            Workplace Communication

            Case Study Findings and Research Implications


Chapter 3        Communicating Co-Culturally

            Co-Cultural Communication Theory

            Co-Cultural Communication Orientation

            Co-Cultural Communication Research

            Case Study and Research Implications

            Pushing Back on Co-Cultural Communication


Chapter 4        Communicating Social Identity

            Communication and Social Identity Research

            Case Study and Research Implications


Chapter 5        Encounters With Strangers

            The (English) Language Dilemma

            Achieving Communicative Integration


Chapter 6        Research Implications, Advocacy, and Future Directions

            Theoretical Implications

            Practical Implications: Institutional Advocacy

            Practical Recommendations

            Shifting My Positionality: From Watching to Doing


            Directions for Future Research

            Closing Thoughts

Appendix A    Interview Guide

Appendix B     Guía de Entrevista



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