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Accepted Paper:

Crisis, emotional disorders and conceptions of injustice: The case of construction workers.  

Author:

Xavier Garcia Curado (Universitat de Barcelona)

Paper short abstract:

On the basis of an etnographic research in Barcelona about everyday life of construction workers during the crisis, I will focus on how austerity affects the relationship between emotional states and conceptions of injustice. The paper will ground emotions in the field of political economy.

Paper long abstract:

This communication is based on an ethnographic research in Barcelona carried out in different everyday life contexts of construction workers during the crisis period. I will focus on how austerity affects the relationship between two dimensions: emotional states and conceptions of injustice. Since the real estate bubble burst in 2007, construction workers have been suffering an extended period of precariousness resulting in emotional disorders. In describing their feelings, construction workers use expressions more or less similar to biomedical discourse, such as stress, to feel sick to the stomach, to be fucked, anxiety, to be irritated, depression, feeling of choking, to be absent, etcetera. Simultaneously, these workers analyze their own material situation through conceptions of injustice, which tends towards a class critique. They point out politicians, bankers and big businessmen as people who controlled all and are the real beneficiaries of the bubble and the crisis. Although workers' conceptions of injustice normally include systemic denounces when speaking about employment, labor conditions or redistribution, this is blurred when they express emotional states. Therefore, it is common to find a gap between conceptions of material precariousness as a systemic injustice and the feeling of discomfort that are read as an individual problem. Following the studies of Ong (1987) and Scheper Hughes (1997), this gap accentuates when the informants use biomedical frameworks to express their emotions. Precisely this gap allows this paper to ground emotions in the field of political economy (Abu-Lughod and Lutz, 1990).

Panel P130a
Contexts and experiences of precariousness: discourses, practices and emotions