Accepted paper:

Public and private economies : ideologies in crisis

Authors:

Giacomo Loperfido (Universitat de Barcelona)
Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper, we tackle the dialectics between the political meanings attached to "private" and "public", while recording their transformations throughout the event of economic turmoil

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, we look at the formation of ideologies around the economy in two regions based on production models that could be described as opposed. More precisely, we tackle the dialectics between the political meanings attached to "private" and "public", while recording their transformations throughout the event of economic turmoil. Public sector energy industry has been Kozani's (Greece) main employer for several decades. However, the current crisis appears to have shattered expectations of secure employment, while intra class competition over shrinking welfare resources is dis-integrating long established class solidarities. Here, the seemingly unstoppable decline of the energy industry seems to be transforming frameworks of meaning around the economy. Entrepreneurial projects seem to have become a thaumaturgical solution to the crisis, while state intervention and public enterprise are utterly criticized. Veneto (Italy), tells an almost inverse story. Intra class competition, individualism, and entrepreneurial ideologies, took shape during the 80's and 90's not in relation to crisis or recession, but as both causes and effects of economic expansion. Competition, conspicuous consumption, and individualism were all attributed a positive moral value as "the engine of growth", while class action, unionization, collectivisation were often defined as morally bad. Today, suggested solutions to the crisis seem to trigger an unforeseen process of rediscovering "the public" and public institutions. The paper articulates these contradictory ethnographic records while trying to solve the conundrum of the mutually constitutive relationships between the economic and the political within the specific social contexts in which they emerge.

panel P012
Ideologies of dispossession along the private/public conundrum [Anthropology of Economy Network]