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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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Bottom-Up Economic Strategies in the Light of the Opole Power Plant Expansion (Mirosław Marczyk)


Mirosław Marczyk1

Abstract: The article concerns relationships between the expansion of the Opole Power Plant and economic bottom-up activities undertaken by residents of the Dobrzeń Wielki commune, which were shaped by various cultural, social, and political forces. In this context, the author discusses differentiated strategies of small and large entrepreneurs shown as immersed not only in the specific local contexts, but also as in many ways related to supra-local processes and phenomena.

Keywords: economic strategies, entrepreneurship, industrial investment, local community, local economics.

Bottom-up social and cultural activities are often perceived as initiatives undertaken outside of formalized institutions, serving to construct a social world and an individual or local identity. It is also agreed that these activities are associated with various political, social, or economic phenomena occurring both on a regional and national scale (more on this issue see Cichocki et al. 2015). It is in reaction to those types of phenomena that activities which can be called bottom-up are undertaken. They take form of various cultural activities, among which bottom-up economic strategies are of key importance. Impulses for those activities are provided by specifically targeted social changes. In Poland, they began after 1989 along with political and economic transformations. The result of these changes was engagement in various bottom-up adaptive activities, which became the subject of anthropological research and its results have already been ←59 | 60→published (see e.g. Buchowski 1997, 2018; Kuligowski, Stanisz 2017; Rakowski 2009).

Along with the progressive...

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