Reclaiming dependence: personhood, class and the remaking of labour in post-socialist Macedonia

Dimitrovski, Aleksandar (2016) Reclaiming dependence: personhood, class and the remaking of labour in post-socialist Macedonia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This thesis is primarily an anthropological and historical study of transformations of labour regimes in Macedonia within the context of a changing political economy. This process can largely be situated in the “transition” from a socialist to a market-based economic model; a process which was never only about transforming the “economic” but touched upon every intimate aspect of people’s lives. It is through these changes, and the reconceptualization of what work ought to be about, that we can explore larger questions of class identity, alienation, morality, personhood and the operations of power and social reproduction in contemporary Macedonian society. As such, this thesis is offered as a contribution to the traditional, yet, in the case of Macedonia, under-researched, themes of social and economic anthropology. My primary fieldsite and object of investigation, is the small township of Shtip, in eastern Macedonia, where I investigate the changing role and social status of industrial workers in the national economy, and the everyday working lives of garment labourers in one of Shtip’s largest garment factories.

The historical chapters of this thesis analyse the making of an industrial working class within socialist Yugoslavia, and the subsequent attempts at unmaking the values, social relations and forms of personhood, that grew up within the specifics of Yugoslav socialism. I approach “class” through the indeterminate interplay of social, cultural and economic factors, and highlight the enduring cultural importance of embedded, relational forms of personhood. As I move towards more current events, and particularly the ethnographic chapters, I focus more strongly on the responses of industrial workers to such changes. I deal not only with specific practices, but also with questions of the “imagination”, or how workers, experience, and reflect on these wider changes in ways that keep open the possibility of rearranging social relations at the work place, and beyond. In doing do, I propose that struggles over the definition of personhood, rather than class conflict, are at the forefront of debates about what work ought to be about. Also, I suggest that the outcome of these struggles has not been to challenge subordination and social inequality in itself, but to challenge the specific kinds of inequality and subject categories introduced by the transition to a neoliberal market economy (Dunn 2004).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform > HN0050 By region or country
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2016 10:35
Last Modified: 19 Apr 2016 10:35

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