Getting By in Postsocialist Romania: Labor, the Body, and Working-Class Culture

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This compelling ethnographic study describes how two groups of Romanian industrial workers have fared since the end of socialism. Once labor's elite, the celebrated coal miners of the Jiu Valley and the chemical workers of the Fagaras region had many social privileges and often derived genuine satisfaction from their work. Today, they are a rarely noted casualty of postsocialist transformations. Fear, distance, and alienation are the physical manifestations of stress experienced due to their precarious job status, declining health, and loss of a social safety net. Kideckel traces these issues in the context of labor, political relationships, domestic and community life, gender identities, and health. Drawing on more than three decades of fieldwork, he presents many narratives from select individuals, in their own words, providing a poignant and illuminating perspective on the everyday lives of ordinary people.