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Beyond informal labour: reputation and norms at work on building sites in Ukraine

Abstract : The aim of this article is to propose a sociology of hiring arrangements, beyond administrative and legal employment frameworks. This construction sector case study is based on ethnographic research carried out on building sites in Ukraine. In a context of wage society crisis, it demonstrates how these arrangements are increasingly decisive in the production of the occupational trajectories of workers located at the bottom of the work hierarchy. The author describes the norms at work on building sites, despite their diversity and despite the under-registration of employment and wages and the lack of any institutionalized professional qualification system. These norms depend less on institutions such as the State or companies than on a professional workers network. They are maintained by arrangements that result from reputational work and distinctive strategies within hiring circles, where workers select their workmates. Under the scrutiny of potential employers, the latter must constantly demonstrate not only professional know-how, but also bargaining skills, i.e. an understanding of pricing and of evaluation methods along with an ability to negotiate remuneration and working conditions.
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Contributor : Pierre Deffontaines Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Monday, May 3, 2021 - 5:40:21 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 9:06:42 AM


Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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Pierre Deffontaines. Beyond informal labour: reputation and norms at work on building sites in Ukraine. Sociologie du Travail, 2021, 63 (1), ⟨10.4000/sdt.38200⟩. ⟨hal-03216126⟩



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