Dual identity and/or 'bread and butter'
Electronics industry workers in Slovakia 1995–2000
This chapter characterises working life and industrial relations in two Slovak electronics plants based on a comparison of selected findings from the second (1995) and third (2000) phase of the international research project 'The Quality of Working Life in the Electronics Industry' (see note 1 in Kroupa and Mansfeldová in this volume for further details).
The principal source was a survey of workers' attitudes, using a standardised questionnaire, supplemented by data from other surveys and interviews with experts. In order to take into account the specific conditions of contemporary Slovakia, the findings are presented in conceptual and empirical context, with reference to system transformation, to economic conditions and the state of the labour market, and to the framework of industrial relations and social partnership in Slovakia during the period concerned.
Post-socialist transformation towards a democratic and capitalist system in the East European context involves a simultaneous and coordinated transformation of both the political and the economic system. Political reform itself involves a combination of two elements: constitutional guarantees of citizens' rights and development of the democratic right of participation (Offe and Adler 1991). The civil right to private property offered citizens – either as owners and employers or as employees – the opportunity to emerge from the relative homogeneity of the 'working people' (when everyone was employed by a monopolistic owner and employer – the state) via specific individual strategies. The other side of the coin was the exclusion of a further group of citizens – the unemployed – from the labour market.
Sociological treatment of these processes in Slovakia has encompassed biographical-interpretative approaches focusing on the behavioural and motivational dimensions of private business formation (Kusá and Tirpáková 1993) as well as on questions of social identity among the unemployed as expressed in their autobiographical narratives (Kusá and Valentšíková