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Abstract

The article adds to research on in-work poverty, ‘precarious’ work and informal economic activity. It provides ethnographic data on mobility between formal and informal work in Russia; industrial ‘normative’ employment is seen as precarious due to on-the-job insecurity (Standing 2011). Insecurity is understood through the prism of low-wages, lack of control over work processes, but above all the imperative on workers to become flexible, self-regulating subjects of the reformed neoliberal Russia. The discourse of self-governmentality is contrasted by informants to interpretations of more benign production regimes under socialism (Burawoy 1992). Exit strategies from, and discourses of resistance to, the new strictures of waged employment are then examined. These are sustained by access to an embedded blue-collar identity, and the social networks that support and reinforce such ties.

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