Call for Papers: Workers and the Post-Industrial Landscape: The Rise of a New Labour?

Posted Date: 2015-07-08
Expiry Date: 2016-01-01

Western scholars such as André Gorz already predicted the decline of the large industrial working class before the implementation of the neoliberal project in advanced Western countries. The process was the most dramatic in Margaret Thatcher’s England, where the right-wing government succeeded in breaking the resistance of militant trade unions and effectively de-industrialized and impoverished the former mining regions. The Eastern European socialist countries were in a special situation. The relationship between the party and the workers had been a widely contested issue since the establishment of the Eastern European Communist regimes, and subject to ideological rather than academic debate. This relationship was central to the self-legitimation of these regimes, as the Eastern European Communist parties that monopolized political power in 1947/48 claimed to rule in the name of the working class and used class theory as a dominant legitimizing ideology. Since the ruling parties held that the industrial working class was key for the popular support of the system, they focused social and labour policy on this group. Even in the 1980s the Communist parties refused to close down outdated industries because this would have meant a heavy blow to the large industrial working class. After the collapse of state socialism, Eastern Europe became an easy target for neoliberal policies and shock therapy. Re-structuring went hand in hand with the closing of factories, large-scale privatization and the massive loss of jobs throughout the region. Workers were often uncritically associated with the discredited Communist regimes, which together with the weakness of trade unions further decreased the chance of effective resistance.
Post-socialist labour has been therefore a neglected topic of interest. We are calling for papers that investigate the post-industrial landscape and the transformation of industrial labour in the mirror of anthropological or sociological
studies. Since de-industrialization was a common experience in the East and the West, we particularly encourage comparative studies and also studies from postcolonial countries. Recent research in Eastern Europe observed the rise of rightwing radicalism in regions that have been heavily affected by the collapse of state socialist industries. Papers focusing on the study of the rise of a new
working class in the East and in post-colonial countries are very much welcome.

The deadline for sending us abstracts is 15 October 2015, while that for papers is
30 November 2015.


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