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Agency at Work

Ethnographies in/of Late Industrialism


Edited By Monika Baer

Rooted in anthropological and ethnological traditions, this volume offers analytical insights into the workings of agency in late industrialism revealed in interactions between a coal power plant and a local community in Opole Silesia, in southwestern Poland. In this context, the authors show by the use of the ethnographic method, how variables and forces of various scales shape political events centered around the power plant; grassroots economic dynamics and entrepreneurship; the local semiosphere uniting the divided social group; affective dimensions of a social protest; (un)doing gender in the industrial workplace; and the mobile livelihoods of migrant industrial workers. By doing so, they concretize in different ways both the concept of late modernity and agency.

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Local Community in the Face of Intense Economic Changes: The Dobrzeń Wielki Commune in Opole Silesia (Konrad Górny)


Konrad Górny1

Abstract: This article analyses dynamic transformations launched by industrialization processes in a local community of the Dobrzeń Wielki commune in Opole Silesia with a particular attention given to the Opole Power Plant and its recent expansion. In this context, social and economic changes in the community shaped by the enlargement of the Opole Power Plant and beyond are being discussed both in a historical perspective and in light of the commune’s administrative division which threatens its existence as an independent administrative unit.

Keywords: cooperation, industrial investment, local community, local economics, social conflict.

One of the constitutive features of ethnology is speaking about reality through the description and analysis of specific cases, and not building broad theories of various social phenomena. This approach was also used in this text and is mainly related to the empirical nature of the field research to which the content of the article refers. Such a position is characteristic of all ethnology, in which scientific theories are built rather cumulatively over long periods of time. Thus, it can be said that knowledge in this case usually grows without breakages reversing up its entire order, and that it does not happen that important discoveries or interesting ideas disappear along with the criticism that affects the theoretical ←39 | 40→and methodological orientations “generating them” (cf. Brocki, Górny 2010: 186).

Among the countless issues that are related to the above thesis, there are also studies of local...

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