“The cleaners you aren’t meant to see”, by Alyson Brody, is an interesting account of shopping mall cleaners in Bangkok. It appears in a recent issue of Antipode on the “dirty work of neoliberalism” (volume 38, issue 3). Don’t be alarmed; unlike much of the content of Antipode this is quite readable (what is it about geographers nowadays?). The paper discusses some of the ways in which ideas about dirt, hygiene and discipline contribute to the construction of a modern urban workforce. There are some nice insights into the lives of the largely invisible shopping mall workforce. But perhaps the story Brody tells is a little too predictable: women forced by economic pressures to move away from agriculture and subject to the disciplinary force of capitalist modernity but (happy ending!) they find some liberation in the “small freedoms” of everyday resistance. (If only some of them could have resorted to spirit possession, then the story really would have been complete.) Perhaps there are more innovative and empowering ways to write about the lives of Thailand’s working poor that do not rely on a two dimensional struggle between discipline and resistance. There are some hints of that here (many of the women actually seem to prefer working indoors to working on the stingy farmlands of northeast Thailand) but ultimately Brody ends up with the cleaners asserting “an alternative vision of the future of their country, one rooted in local values and mutual trust, community, and working the land.” Is this really the alternative vision of these women or is it the persistent vision of a social science still captivated by the distinction between Gemeinschaft and Gesellshaft?