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Socially embedded workers at the nexus of diverse work in Russia: An ethnography of blue-collar informalization

Morris, Jeremy (2011) Socially embedded workers at the nexus of diverse work in Russia: An ethnography of blue-collar informalization. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 31 (11/12). pp. 619-631. ISSN 0144-333X

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URL of Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/01443331111177832

Identification Number/DOI: 10.1108/01443331111177832

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore an important nexus of formal/informal economic activity in Russia: “normative” workers (in waged formal employment) by virtue of a strongly embedded work-related social identity and characterized by a significant number of weak social ties, move with little “effort” between formal and informal work.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents extensive ethnographic data from the Russian provinces on workers and diverse economic practices. It utilizes participant observation and semi-structured interviews from periods of fieldwork over the course of a year (2009-2010).
Findings – This study traces the theoretical debates on the informal economy from 1989 to 2008 and argues for a substantivist position on household reproduction that focuses on the interdependence of social networks, employment, class-identity and (informal) work. The findings demonstrate significant performative and spatial aspects of embedded worker identity, including the workspace itself as a contested domain, that facilitate movement between formal-informal work.
Originality/value – The originality of the paper resides in its ethnographic approach to informal economies under post-socialism and the substantivist evaluation of diverse economic practices in Russia as supported by formal work-based shared identities.

Type of Work:Article
Date:2011 (Publication)
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
Department:Centre for Russian and East European Studies

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Keywords:Russia, Blue collar workers, Ethnography, Informal economy, Post-socialism, Diverse economy, Precarity
Subjects:G Geography (General)
GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences (General)
HM Sociology
Institution:University of Birmingham
Copyright Holders:Emerald
ID Code:1455
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