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Automobile Masculinities and Neoliberal Production Regimes Among Russian Blue-Collar Men

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Part of the Global Masculinities book series (GLMAS)

Abstract

Based on long-term ethnography on working-class men, this chapter investigates how global changes in production and labour inflect working-class Russian masculinity. These changes include challenges to traditional Russian factory work by the informal economy and transnational corporations. Performative masculinity through consumption and do-it-yourself (car ownership, mechanical repair and tinkering) is subject to change. Automobility is emblematic of uneasy social mobility and engagement with neoliberal governmentality. It marks how masculinity intersects with both aspiration and stubborn retrenchments of more traditional working-class identities. The machinic assemblage (in Lazzarato’s terms) of male, worker and automobility is dynamic. It recombines new subjectivation in neoliberal work, as worker, as man, and in relation to that arch-symbol of the machine–human interface, the car.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Izluchino is a pseudonym. It is not officially a town but an ‘urban settlement’ (poselek gorodskogo tipa), reflecting its connection to rapid industrialization after World War II. Locally, the town is emblematic of a process that occurred throughout the Soviet Union—the proliferation of small and medium-sized towns. By the end of the Soviet period nearly 30 % of Russia’s population lived in industrial cities with less than 100,000 inhabitants (Collier 2011: 111).

  2. 2.

    The town, like all informants, is a composite of several industrial spaces in the Kaluga region and is similarly anonymized.

  3. 3.

    I adopt the term ‘propertizing’ from Skeggs, who uses it to propose the potentiality of autonomist working-class values among women in the UK (1997: 32). Skeggs’ more recent work attempts to deal with the difficulty of applying Bourdieusian ‘capitals’ analysis in contexts where subjects’ claim to personhood are delegitimized by virtue of a lack of access to ‘dominant symbolic circuits’ (2011: 503).

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Morris, J. (2018). Automobile Masculinities and Neoliberal Production Regimes Among Russian Blue-Collar Men. In: Walker, C., Roberts, S. (eds) Masculinity, Labour, and Neoliberalism. Global Masculinities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63172-1_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63172-1_8

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

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