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(Re)sounding Histories

On the Temporalities of the Media Event

Penelope Papailias

At 10:30 am on 28 May 1999, an Albanian migrant worker, 24-year-old Flamur Pisli, known in Greece as “Antonis,” boarded a bus in a town at the outskirts of Thessaloniki where he had been living and working for several years. With a Kalashnikov rifle

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Regions, borders, and social policy

The limits of welfare in regional cohesion debates

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

This first issue of Volume Four of Regions & Cohesion continues a trend of articles that gained momentum in Volume Three, focusing on the territorial aspects of welfare in social cohesion debates. The Summer 2013 issue of the journal presented a collection of articles that specifically discussed the role of borders and border policies in social cohesion politics. Although this collection was not intended to be presented as a thematically specific issue, the simultaneous arrival of these pieces highlighted the importance of borders in defining the territorial limits of cohesion and the ensuing renegotiation of these limits in political debates. For example, the article by Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O’Donoghue focused on the impacts of the European Union’s social security coordination policy on the welfare of cross-border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg. The article illustrated the limits of this regional policy as cross-border workers do not receive equal treatment compared to domestic workers in the country of employment. Similarly, an article by Franz Clément in the same issue analyzed the “socio-political representation” of cross-border workers and discusses how such workers can mobilize for socioeconomic rights in institutions aimed at worker protection (such as professional associations, trade unions, etc.). Both articles show that despite formal regionalization of legislation concerning social rights and representation, national boundaries clearly present challenges to cross-border workers who have difficulty negotiating rights in both their country of employment and country of residence.

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Giving them the slip

Israeli employers' strategic falsification of pay slips to disguise the violation of Thai farmworkers' right to the minimum wage

Matan Kaminer

In a 2013 Facebook post, Israel’s then Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett (2013; my translation) wrote: 'If an Israeli employer knows that he has to pay every worker the minimum wage, give him one day off a week, pay overtime and produce pay slips – he just won’t employ infiltrators and foreign workers. He will choose an Israeli worker. This is how we dry the main fuel which sets fire to the problem of infiltrators in south Tel Aviv and across the country, and at the same time do justice to workers who are exploited in substandard conditions.' Bennett posits the equal protections of labour law as primarily informed not by a universalist concern for the welfare of all workers but by a desire to exclude both documented ‘foreign workers’ and undocumented ‘infiltrators’ from the labour market. A document – the pay slip – serves in Bennett’s plan as an icon of legality and a tool in the hands of this policy of exclusion through egalitarianism.

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Living from the Nerves

Deportability, Indeterminacy, and the 'Feel of Law' in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

While deportability has elicited interest as a legal predicament facing migrant workers, less attention has been given to the way in which this condition of temporal uncertainty shapes migrants' everyday encounters with state agents. Drawing on ethnography among Kyrgyzstani migrant workers in Moscow, I show that in conditions of documentary uncertainty 'legal residence' depends upon successfully enacting a right to the city and the personalization of the state. Alongside fear and suspicion, this space of legal uncertainty is characterized by a sense of abandon and awareness of the performativity of law. I explore 'living from the nerves' as an ethnographic reality for Kyrgyzstani migrant workers and as an analytic for developing a more variegated account of state power and its affective resonances in contemporary Russia.

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Natalia Jarska

This article focuses on gender relations and industrialization in the Stalinist and post-Stalinist period in Poland. Taking the example of a newly built metal factory in Kraśnik and its female workers, it shows the importance of local conditions for the process of the “productivization” of women. The article argues that in rural areas the access of women to the factory generated less conflict than in the urban milieu. The plant employed a great number of female workers in nearly every position—not as a result of any special “productivization” policy, but because women sought to work there. Women in Kraśnik did not see a conflict between their identities as women and wage work, including that in occupations traditionally dominated by men. In the course of de-Stalinization, the gender division of work became more important in shaping the employment policy of the factory. This article demonstrates how gender ideologies specific to peasant and workers' culture interacted in the process of industrialization.

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Paul Apostolidis

This essay considers whether legal rights remain a core resource for transforming the social situation of low-income workers in the United States. In particular, how does the recent expansion of the immigrant workforce in the US affect the prospects for workers to generate a symbiosis between legalist struggles and rank-and-file movement activism? I demonstrate that the migration narratives of Mexican immigrant union activists intervene in the law's formation of political subjects, such that the thorough disciplining of a docile subject by the law does not necessarily result from legalist activism. Instead, migration stories furnish alternative sources of identity that can mitigate these effects and spur the translation of legalist struggle into radical-democratic unionism. My analysis is based on interviews with immigrant workers who led a highly unusual movement of resistance from 1995-2005 at a large beef processing plant in Washington State.

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The Far Eastern Railway in the 1930s

Relations and Reactions to the Repressions in the USSR

Elena Gnatovskaya and Alexander Kim

This article evaluates the relationship among the railroad staff of the Far East during the most dramatic events in the political life of the country at that time—repressions. As a rule, Russian academic literature indicates that few workers perceived the Soviet state’s mechanisms of pressure negatively. This article demonstrates that the railroad staff’s position was far more diverse than traditionally argued, which is a result of the broad variety of social groups working for the railroad in the Far East. The article demonstrates this diversity of opinions by focusing on those events that affected a significant number of railroad workers.

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Between Us Girls

On Girls' Interpretations of Sexuality

Elena Omelchenko

In this article I deal with interpretations of sexuality that are typical of Russian girls who are learning to become blue-collar or pink-collar professionals such as, for example, public health nurses, social workers, tourism and hospitality industry workers, fashion designers, and those training for employment in services like cooking, hairdressing, and tailoring. The empirical base of this article is a set of in-depth semi-structured interviews with young women and men concerning their individual sexual experiences. I examine scenarios of feminine subjectivity within the context of discussing a first sexual experience. I look, too, at how girls exercise girl-power within the framework of communication and intimacy with a partner.

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Editorial

Labor mobility versus class mobilization?

Oscar Salemink

On Sunday, 23 February 2003, around twelve thousand foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong—largely, but not exclusively, Filipina “maids”—demonstrated in Victoria Park against government plans to levy a new charge on migrant labor contracts while lowering the minimum wage.

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Kieran Flanagan and Alexander T. Riley

Mike Gane, Auguste Comte. London: Routledge, 2006, pp. 158.

Donald Nielsen, Horrible Workers: Max Stirner, Arthur Rimbaud, Robert Johnson, and the Charles Manson Circle: Studies in Moral Experience and Cultural Expression. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005, pp. 134.

Philip Smith, Why War? The Cultural Logic of Iraq, the Gulf War and Suez. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005, pp. 256.