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Accepted Paper:

Labour, crisis and social reproduction: a view from southern Italy  
Antonio Maria Pusceddu (Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Iscte - Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines people's experience and understandings of labour devaluation and its impact on social reproduction in southern Italy. Addressing the uneven geographies of austerity, it highlights the spatial complexity of socio-economic transformations engendered by contemporary capitalism.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines people's experience, understandings and reactions to labour devaluation and its impact on social reproduction in southern Italy.

Jobs in the informal economy and a widespread pattern of single-income families characterize the socio-economic context of Brindisi, a town targeted by state-driven industrialization and torn by recurrent crisis and foreign capital restructuring. Despite increasing workforce precarisation, industrial (male-dominated) labour still raises expectations of income stability.

Drawing on the concept of "housewifisation" of labour - in terms of precariousness and crisis of collective negotiations, the paper aims exploring the meaning and experience of labour following a twofold perspective. First, it examines how structural processes of labour devaluation, as experienced in workplaces, impact on social reproduction. Second, it investigates how social reproduction arrangements, in relation to changing forms of labour exploitation, affect people's perception of labour in the workplace and in relation to regulatory state's role. Hence it asks: how do notions of "care", as originated from the reproductive sphere, frame people's understanding of labour and their relation to the global economy, both in terms of workers' positioning and self-awareness and in terms of corporate rhetorics of cooperation? How do tensions between autonomy and dependence underlying social reproduction are being transferred into the workplace in framing conflicts and solidarities?

By framing the analysis in light of austerity's unequal territorial impact in Italy, the paper suggests that spatial structures of inequality provide a useful perspective to address the complexity of social and economic transformation engendered by contemporary capitalism and austerity in Europe.

Panel P032
Value(s) of labour in austerity-era Europe
  Session 1