Industrial hegemony and moral economy in a Ukrainian metalworking city

Special report. Grounded companies and the role of states
By Denys Gorbach

This article investigates factory regimes in Kryvyi Rih, a mining and metalworking city in eastern Ukraine. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, it studies the reproduction of industrial hegemony in the context of major post-Soviet transformations (privatization and austerity measures). The comparison of three cases representing different hegemonic configurations (mines privatized by Ukrainian businessmen, a metalworking factory bought by a foreign company, and quarries acquired by a Ukrainian vertically integrated holding) sheds light on the variations of this process. This variability is due to the degree of the new owner’s indigeneity and his repressive capacity; to the kind of informal relations regulating the labor process and the union scene; and to the social embeddedness of the owner on the scale of the factory and at the city level. The article shows how the construction and preservation of a hegemonic bloc between the dominant and the subaltern groups at the enterprise level rely on a vernacular moral economy in which the factory’s economic activities are embedded. Post-Soviet industrial paternalism is the product of lay expectations that are, in their turn, dynamic and prone to change under the influence of the policies of legitimate owners.

  • factory regime
  • Fordism
  • hegemony
  • industry
  • labor
  • paternalism
  • postsocialism
  • trade unions
  • working class
  • Ukraine
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