Work, Employment, and Transition: Restructuring Livelihoods in Post-Communism

Work, Employment, and Transition: Restructuring Livelihoods in Post-Communism

Work, Employment, and Transition: Restructuring Livelihoods in Post-Communism

Work, Employment, and Transition: Restructuring Livelihoods in Post-Communism

Synopsis

The contributors to this volume highlight the varied and complex forms which work and employment restructuring are taking in the post Soviet world, and make theoretical contributions to our understanding of these transformations.

Excerpt

In Moscow…the plan for economic transformation to capitalist markets was described by officials and the press in a representationally impoverished form as, simply, 'the big bang' (English original). This mystical, invisible, sonar boom, imported by economists from Harvard, was supposed to provide for three hundred million Russian people [sic] some kind of cosmic rebirth out of the ashes of seventy years of Soviet rule. Heralded as the beginning of the new era, it seemed to the average citizen, on the contrary, to lead society ever deeper into a black hole.

(Buck-Morss 1995:466)

[I]t seems reasonable to ask what it might mean to call the countries of eastern Europe 'capitalist'. Does it mean that collective and communal and feudal and individual and family processes of production (some of which might be the same thing, and many of which co-existed with the presumptively hegemomic state sector) no longer exist? Does it mean that non-market exchange networks and barter systems that were in place before 1989 are no longer operative or are not now being created to deal with new problems of privation and scarcity, problems associated with a new economic and social order?

(Gibson-Graham 1996:244)

Since the late 1980s, the countries of East-Central Europe (ECE) and the former Soviet Union (Figure 1.1) have been party to one of the most dramatic economic experiments in the 'modern' world. Encouraged by a proselytising community of neo-liberal economists, and almost forced by international financial institutions (IFIs) through conditionality clauses attached to lending programmes (Gowan 1995, Wedel 2000), national governments have widely deployed liberal industrial, employment and social policies. Designed to engineer a shift from, what was seen as, an overly rigid state-planned system under the Soviet model, these policies have aimed to introduce market capitalism. While many key proponents of these

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