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Employment restructuring and household survival in 'postcommunist transition': rethinking economic practices in Eastern Europe
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 16:48 authored by Adrian Smith
Within the context of rapid structural adjustment and the onslaught of neoliberal policies, this paper explores the varied trajectories and processes of employment restructuring in 'postcommunist' East-Central Europe. I first examine some of the comparative dimensions of employment and labour-market change in the region. The differential links between uneven employment loss and unemployment are explored to highlight the diverse national experiences of labour restructuring. I then go on to assess the links between employment restructuring and increasing nonparticipation in the labour market, again highlighting the importance of national differences which belie neoliberal notions of a unidimensional transition to capitalist employment relations. Having established the severity of the 'employment shocks' across East-Central Europe, I then go on to examine the links between labour-market restructuring and emergent social inequality since 1989. The polarisation of employment opportunities and constraints provides a context for discussing the development of household economic practices that lie outside the 'formal', emergent capitalist economy. Through an exploration of a household data set for Bulgaria I examine the ways in which households in different labour-market positions have developed 'strategies' that involve economic activities constituted outside of formal capitalist, market relations. On the basis of this analysis I argue that a theoretical space becomes opened, through which it is possible to situate household economic practices not solely as 'responses' to the austerity of transition, but as constitutive of alternative sites of economic relations with their own autonomies and histories.
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Department affiliated with
- Geography Publications
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