In the last three decades, the analytical categories of class and labor often appeared as having lost their luster for many social scientists and historians. This is especially true for scholars working on Eastern Europe, where after the fall of state socialist regimes the language of class was frequently presented as exhausted and burdened by political misuse. The instrumentalization of class was a protracted one, practiced first and foremost by the state socialist elites and subsequently by the postsocialist authorities. The communist party-states conceived of workers almost exclusively as a politically united and combative historical actor endowed with pregiven purpose. The communists ruled in the name of the working classes, and it was of the utmost importance for the official historiographies to follow the teleological assumptions of steady growth of the labor movement and the relentless march toward socialism. On the other hand, postsocialist political elites were keen to portray...
New Perspectives on East European Labor History: An Introduction
RORY ARCHER is a postdoctoral researcher at the history department of the University of Konstanz. His research has focused on labor and social history in late socialist Yugoslavia, social inequalities in socialism, housing, gender, everyday life, and popular culture. He leads the research project “To the Northwest! Intra-Yugoslav Albanian Migration (1953–1989)” at the University of Graz, funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). Publications include the collection Social Inequalities and Discontent in Yugoslav Socialism (2016, coedited with Igor Duda and Paul Stubbs).
GORAN MUSIĆ is an associated researcher at the Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz. His fields of interest include global labor history, comparative history of workers under state socialism, and everyday history of socialist Yugoslavia. Publications include the forthcoming monograph Making and Breaking the Yugoslav Working Class: The Story of Two Self-Managed Factories.
Rory Archer, Goran Musić; New Perspectives on East European Labor History: An Introduction. Labor 1 September 2020; 17 (3): 19–29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15476715-8349332
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