Socially Embedded Workers at the Nexus of Diverse Work in Russia: An Ethnography of Blue-Collar Informalization

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

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.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619 - 631
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology and Social Policy
Volume31
Issue number11/12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011