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.
Special report. Grounded companies and the role of statesBy Denys Gorbach