Posted work mobility regime and the transnational making of class: between individual class projects and collective political agency
Anna Matyska (KU Leuven )
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores transnational class making under the framework of posted work, that is mobility of workers within transnational subcontracting chain. I ask how posted work affects individual class experiences and collective political agency of Polish workers in construction and shipyards.
Paper long abstract:
Transnational mobility of labour and capital has released class making from its national confines. Mobility becomes a class resource, while different forms of mobility resonate with the making of class in different ways (Glick Schiller and Salazar 2013). In this paper, I explore class making under the framework of posted work - one of the flagship and politically more controversial projects of European integration, which involves the transnational subcontracting of foreign labour for short-term projects under the provision of service. I ask how posted work mobility affects individual class experiences and collective political agency of Polish workers in construction and shipyard sector. I look at posted work as an intersection of a particular mobility and employment regime, within which workers enact their individual class projects (Ortner 2003). In particular, I point to the diversified outcomes of posted work mobility and the interplay between what posted work offers and how do workers use it as a class resource, both informally and in relation to organized trade union activism. I will point to a key relational distinction between Polish posted workers who identify themselves as kontraktowcy, that is those who commit themselves to transnational class making through contract work mobility, and those who are posted abroad by their regular employer and treat transnational mobility as an intermittent stage in their professional biographies. I built my argument on multi-sited fieldwork, including interviews and participant observation, conducted among Polish posted workers in Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Poland in 2014-2017.
The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions