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Accepted Paper:

Young industrial workers and visions of futures in a copper-processing industrial complex in Serbia   
Deana Jovanovic (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper focuses on young adults who obtained employment at the copper-processing company in Bor (Serbia). It questions anthropological/political engagement when social inequalities become reproduced by the workers’ practices, and when their agency was allocated in successful “muddling through”.

Paper long abstract:

The paper explores the moment of the rise of copper price on the stock market which became an incentive for the Serbian government to promise economic growth through the revival of the rundown copper-processing industry in the mono-industrial town of Bor. In the context of a political propaganda of the mutual revival of the town and the company, the company (ran by the politicians) offered unusually high salaries compared to the national average and employed young workers who represented a category onto which hopes were mapped in the public discourse.

The paper focuses on young adults in Bor who obtained employment at the industrial company through the "work" of kinship and political ties. It explores the practices they invested in maintaining and realising their hopes to get and maintain the job at the company, particularly attracted to it as it comprised little work for tremendously good money. The analysis focuses on the ambivalence which consisted of the interplay of derisiveness and scoffing coupled with hope as dispositions with regard to their futures as industrial workers at the company. The article deals with a question of anthropological (and political) engagement when gender, age and class inequalities were reproduced by informants' practices illustrated in this paper, and when the workers' agency became allocated in the their successful "muddling through" and "tricking" the "system" in spite of a possible impeding sense of collapse.

Panel P012
Visions of futures from industrial workplaces: shop-floor reflexivities on work, political agency and social reproduction
  Session 1