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Republican Freedom in the Labour Market

Exploitation Without Interpersonal Domination

Fausto Corvino

In this article, I query whether participation in the labour market can hinder neo-republican freedom as non-domination. I briefly present the view of Philip Pettit on the topic, based on the distinction between offering a reward and threatening a punishment. I compare it to the analysis of labour republicans, recently reconstructed by Alex Gourevitch, according to whom, the exclusion of a group of individuals from the control of productive assets represents a form of structural domination. Then, I explain why I take a position that is different from both. I hold that capitalist structural domination leads only to exploitation, not interpersonal domination. In doing this, I consider two objections that might be raised against my argument. The first one is based on incomplete contracts and on a possible ideal benchmark for job offers. The second one challenges the supposed arbitrariness of unequal property relations within the capitalist social system.

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Some Responses to Globalisation in Uzbekistan

State Authoritarianism, Migrant Labour and Neo-traditionalism

Laurent Bazin

Uzbekistan offers a case study of a country that has blocked the liberalisation of its economy and that is being marginalised in the world market as well as in the international community. Even still, two typical expressions of globalisation processes can be identified: first, an attempt to reconstruct the legitimacy of the state through the reinvention of a 'national identity', and, second, the elimination of a specific form of protected salaried work that had arisen during the Soviet era, along with a concurrent proletarianisation of the population, in particular in the rural areas. The research shows that political coercion and the inculcation of a nationalist ideology, on the one hand, and the economic degradation of living standards, on the other, result in the reinforcement of family ties and repression of individuality, in spite of huge labour migrations and a (minimal) introduction of the market.

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Tajik Male Labour Migration and Women Left Behind

Can They Resist Gender and Generational Hierarchies?

Mary Elaine Hegland

Poverty and unemployment send at least one million Tajiks to Russia for low-level labour migration. The migrants, mainly male, leave women behind to manage on their own. As a result, women have to work all the harder to try to feed themselves and their children, often against great odds. Male migrant labour to Russia, along with unemployment, alcoholism, drug dependency and other problems, also results in a shortage of marriageable males. This is a serious problem because Tajiks expect girls to marry early. Globalisation, poverty and male labour migration serve to exacerbate existing gender and generational hierarchies.

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Michael A. Peters

This special issue focused on ‘Digital Media and Contested Visions of Education’ provides an opportunity to examine the tendency to hypothesise a rupture in the history of the university. It does so by contrasting the traditional Humboldtian ideals of the university with a neoliberal marketised version and in order to ask questions concerning evaluations of the quality of higher education within a knowledge economy. Theorising the rupture has led to a variety of different accounts most of which start from an approach in political economy and differ according to how theorists picture this change in capitalism. Roughly speaking the question of whether to see the political economy of using social media in higher education from a state perspective or a network perspective is a critical issue. A state-centric approach is predisposed towards a reading that is based on a critical realist approach of Marxist political economy (Jessop 1993). By contrast an approach that decentres the state and focuses on global networked finance capitalism ironically grows out of a military-university research network created by the U.S. government. Arguably, networks, not states, now constitute the organising global structure (Castells 2009) and while state-centric theory with hierarchical structures are still significant, relational, selforganising and flexible market networks have become the new unit of analysis for understanding the circuits of global capital (Peters 2014; Peters 2009). However, states still have a role to play in norming the networks or providing the governing framework in international law.

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Invisible labour

Do we need to reoccupy student engagement policy?

Sarah Hayes

The ‘academic orthodoxy’ (Brookfield 1986) of student engagement is questioned by Zepke, who suggests that it supports ‘a neoliberal ideology’ (2014: 698). In reply, Trowler argues that Zepke fails to explain the mechanisms linking neoliberalism to the concepts and practices of student engagement (2015: 336). In this article, I respond to the Zepke-Trowler debate with an analysis of student engagement policies that illuminates the role of discourse as one mechanism linking neoliberal values with practices of student engagement. Through a corpus-based Critical Discourse Analysis, I demonstrate a persistent and alarming omission of human labour from university policy texts. Instead, the engagements of students and staff are attributed to technology, documents and frameworks. Student engagement is discussed as a commodity to be embedded and marketed back to students in a way that yields an ‘exchange value’ (Marx 1867) for universities.

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Love, Motherhood and Migration

Regulating Migrant Women's Sexualities in the Persian Gulf

Pardis Mahdavi

This article looks at the confluence of love, labour and the law by focusing on the regulation of migrant women's sexualities in the Gulf Coast Cooperation countries of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Migrant women increasingly comprise the majority of migrants to the region as the demand for intimate labour in the Persian Gulf is on the rise. But migrant women who become pregnant while in the Persian Gulf are immediately imprisoned and charged with the crime of zina. These women give birth while incarcerated and spend up to a year with their babies in prison. They are then forcibly separated from their children when they are deported, rendering the children stateless in the host country. Migrant women who are often brought to the Persian Gulf to perform (re)productive labour are seen as immoral if they engage in sexual activities during their time in the Persian Gulf (and this is written into their contracts), and thus are seen as unfit to parent their own children. Some migrant women have recently been protesting these laws by refusing and fighting deportation without their children. This article contrasts discourses about migrant women's sexuality and legal analysis with the lived experiences of selected migrant women and their children through ethnographic research conducted in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait City between 2008 and 2014.

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Morag Shiach

This article will explore the imaginative, philosophical and political relations between human labour and selfhood in a central fictional text of the 1930s: Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s trilogy A Scots Quair. James Leslie Mitchell, writing under the pseudonym of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, published the three volumes that make up this trilogy between 1932 and 1934. The first, Sunset Song (1932) develops narrative and symbolic resources for the representation of the economic and cultural history of farming communities in North-East Scotland from 1911 to the end of the First World War (with a formally inventive prelude that reaches back to the Norman Conquest). This novel is centrally concerned with the developing consciousness of Chris Guthrie, a farmer’s daughter, and much of its free-indirect narrative style offers glimpses into her perceptions, fears, and desires as she moves from childhood to early adulthood. The second novel, Cloud Howe (1933), shows the pressure on community and on continuity as Chris moves with her second husband and her son to a small industrial town in the 1920s. It explores the efforts towards collectivity as well as the social and psychic costs of faith, as Chris and her family try to sustain relationships and histories in the conflictual and rapidly changing social relationships of Scotland in the 1920s. The final novel, Grey Granite (1933) follows the logic of the first two novels in moving to the city. Chris’s son Ewan acts out the logic of intense identification with the impersonal demands of the collective, a psychological and social adjustment that is signalled through the symbolic centrality of rocks and minerals to the novel, while Chris struggles to survive her financially precarious identity as an impoverished widow.

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Chiara Collamati

Through an analysis of the category of alienation in the Critique of Dialectical Reason, this article aims to shed light on the way in which Sartre attempts to think through alienation both with Marx and going beyond Marx. Sartre does not reduce alienation either to an ontological dimension of praxis or to the exclusively socio-economic determination of the capitalist mode of production. In order to grasp better the theoretical stakes of Sartre’s position, André Gorz’s analyses of the link between labour and alienation is discussed. The path via Gorz (who always insisted on his philosophical indebtedness to Sartre) is useful in order to ascertain whether it is justified to adopt the Sartrean dialectic of praxis and alienation as the basis of a critique of labour in the present configuration of the capitalist system. These questions will be taken as a starting point for an ethical and political examination of the category of need, as it is problematized by Sartre in the Critique and above all in the manuscript of “Les Racines de l’éthique” (1964).

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Stalin's railway to nowhere

'The Dead Road' (1947-1953)

Victor L. Mote

The uncompleted railway across Northern Siberia was one of the most shameful projects of the post-war era, involving many deaths and huge discomforts. Hailed by Stalin himself as a major part of his 'Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature', the scheme was dropped at his death in 1953. By that time, less than 600 kilometres were in working operation, even though up to 300,000 persons had been involved and about a third of them had perished, while more than 40 billion rubles of capital investment had been wasted. Ghostly labour camps, rusting rolling stock and rails, hundreds of bridges remain in what has been called 'an open air museum of human technology', preserved by nature's refrigerator - the tundra. The article describes the reasons for the railway project and the 'Great Plan', the organization involved, and the conditions in which the enslaved workforce struggled for survival and died.

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Constructing the Socialist Worker

Gender, Identity and Work under State Socialism in Braşov, Romania

Jill Massino

Utilising socialist legislation, propaganda and oral history interviews, this article analyses how women’s identities and roles – as well as gender relations – were reformulated as a result of women’s participation in paid labour in socialist Romania. Although some women regarded work as burdensome and unsatisfying, others found it intellectually fulfilling, personally rewarding and, in certain respects, empowering. For example, work improved women’s economic position and offered them an array of social services, which, although inadequate in a number of ways, were welcomed by many women. Moreover, work increased women’s physical and social mobility, which in turn provided them with greater freedom in directing their own lives and in choosing a partner. Finally, the experience of being harassed by male co-workers and of combining work outside the home with domestic responsibilities motivated some women to rethink their status both within the workplace and the family, and to renegotiate their relationships with male colleagues and partners. Although women never achieved full equality in socialist Romania, by creating the conditions for women’s full-time engagement in the workforce, state socialism decisively shaped the course of women’s lives, their self-identities and their conceptions of gender roles, often in positive ways.