Accepted Paper:

Inconsistent prestige and constant alienation: an ethnography of work and consumption among Romanian coal miners  


Maria Voichita Grecu (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, CMH)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the ongoing processes of value transformation in work and consumption in Romania’s Jiu Valley mining region.

Paper long abstract:

The paper describes and analyses the dynamics in the arena of work and consumption in a context of declining labour. Using data drawn from an ethnographic research in Jiu Valley, carried between 2005 and 2007, and from additional interviews and observations made before and after this period, the paper provides an example of how attributes of social esteem are constantly negotiated by people on the margins of global processes. It gives an anthropological assessment of de-industrialization and examines how social, economic, and institutional transformations affect forms of solidarity and subjectivity, and shape new relations of inequality. It focuses on the changing images of work and attitudes to work of a mixed group of coal miners, different manual workers, and unemployed people, as well as on the consumption patterns and exchange forms developed between them. The everyday emphasis on consumption as a practice for attaining social difference and prestige, weaken the claims of work in defining social identity. Yet, in a context of marginalization and economic vulnerability, work offers a range of social and symbolic supplementary guarantees and challenges the role of consumption in social differentiation.

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Work and consumption: insurmountable links in uncertain times (EN) (FR)