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Producing permanence: employment, domesticity and the flexible future on a South African border farm

Bolt, Maxim (2013) Producing permanence: employment, domesticity and the flexible future on a South African border farm. Economy and Society, 42 (2). pp. 197-225. ISSN 0308-5147

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URL of Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03085147.2012.733606

Identification Number/DOI: doi:10.1080/03085147.2012.733606

What does it mean to be ‘permanent’ in an increasingly flexible world of work? On the Zimbabwean-South African border, white farmers guard against risk by investing in portfolios of estates and emphasizing their mobility. But the farms rely on core black workforces of resident ‘general workers’, known as mapermanent. The lives of mapermanent embody temporal contradictions in South African agriculture. Work regimes depend on arrangements established through long-term residence in labour compounds, a stability threatened by employers’ pragmatism in a volatile sector. Here, short-term ‘permanence’ coexists with longer-term insecurity. Moreover, what I call provisional permanence is built on others’ transience: mapermanent draw on the domestic labour of temporary contract workers and the order enforcement of rotating border garrisons. Tensions between temporalities characterize workers’ assertions of ‘permanence’, and their limitations, in an economy of flexibility and shifting investments.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2013 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Centre for West African Studies
Subjects:HC Economic History and Conditions
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Taylor and Francis
ID Code:1345
Refereed:YES
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