This book is an ethnography of politics of waiting in the contemporary austerity state. While the global political economy is usually imagined through metaphors of acceleration and speed, this book reveals waiting as the shadow temporality of the contemporary logics of governance. The ethnographic site for this analysis is a state-run unemployment office in Latvia. This site not only grants the author unique access to observing everyday implementation of social assistance programmes that use acceleration and waiting as forms of control but also serves as a vantage point from which to compare Western and post-Soviet workfare policy designs. The book thus contributes to current debates across sociology and anthropology on the increasingly coercive forms of social control by examining ethnographically forms of statecraft that have emerged in the aftermath of several decades of neoliberalism. The ethnographic perspective reveals how time shapes a nation’s identity as well as one’s sense of self and ordinary ethics in culturally specific ways. The book traces how both the Soviet past, with its narratives of building communism at an accelerated speed while waiting patiently for a better future, as well as the post-Soviet nationalist narratives of waiting as a sacrifice for freedom come to play a role in this particular case of the politics of waiting.
Most people find it hard to define ‘the economy’ beyond saying it is ‘to do with money’. This book explores what ‘the economy’ means to people’s lives in Brexit Britain and what goes through their minds when they hear politicians talking about it. Through research with people from a range of backgrounds in a city on the sSouth coast of England conducted between 2016 and 2018, it reveals what they understand about key aspects of ‘the economy’, including employment, austerity, trade and the economic effects of migration. The book comes at a crucial point. There is widespread commentary that those who support Leave attach less importance to ‘the economy’ than those who support Remain. However, political scientists have neglected research into what the term ‘the economy’ means to people. This book suggests that it is a less neutral term, based on shared goals, than it has been in the past. While high- income participants, regardless of their political beliefs or referendum vote, tend to feel connected to what could be described as the official version of ‘the economy’, lower- income participants feel less connected and see both ‘the economy’ and economic expertise as ‘rigged’. These changes are not just the result of the Brexit debate but have longer- term roots. The book highlights the value of political ethnographic methods for researching nebulous concepts such as this one. It will be of interest to a general and political science audience and contributes to debates in political behaviour and political economy.
This book is an ethnographic study of the internal dynamics of a subcultural community that defines itself as a social movement. While the majority of scholarly studies on this movement focus on its official face, on its front stage, this book concerns itself with the ideological and practical paradoxes at work within the micro-social dynamics of the backstage, an area that has so far been neglected in social movement studies. The central question is how hierarchy and authority function in a social movement subculture that disavows such concepts. The squatters’ movement, which defines itself primarily as anti-hierarchical and anti-authoritarian, is profoundly structured by the unresolved and perpetual contradiction between both public disavowal and simultaneous maintenance of hierarchy and authority within the movement. This study analyzes how this contradiction is then reproduced in different micro-social interactions, examining the methods by which people negotiate minute details of their daily lives as squatter activists in the face of a funhouse mirror of ideological expectations reflecting values from within the squatter community, that, in turn, often refract mainstream, middle class norms.
I introduced some participants in Chapter 1 . Diane and Misha came from one part of the city I call Hill district and Rachel from Church district. In this chapter I introduce the districts and describe the methods I used to conduct the fieldwork this book is based on. The approach to gathering knowledge I use is interpretivist and the methodology is to research with an ethnographic sensibility. For readers unfamiliar with ethnographic methods or wanting to read more, I have included additional detail about the methods in the Appendix. For readers not
call, and, with a fixed stare shouted across the bar to me: ‘I’ll let you know how it goes with Rigghill, and you can put that in your book, warts and all, Joe!’
Context and questions
The incident above occurred in June 2013, about six months after my first trip to Glencruix, and about nine months into what was to become a five-year ethnographic investigation into the Orange Order in Scotland. Forming in 1795 in Ireland and arriving in Scotland in 1799, the Scottish Order today claims an estimated (but not undisputed) membership of 50,000, making it the largest
discipline was implicitly
founded on broad disjunctions between Western societies grounded in
history and reason, on the one hand, and non-Western cultures held in
place by myth and ritual, on the other. 2
Such premises came to underlie particular protocols of
salvage anthropology, also shoring up formative dispositions of the
ethnographic enterprise. These procedures and orientations have been
1999; Barry, Osborne and Rose 1996; Rose 1999; Brown 2003; Ong 2006;
Foucault 2008; Read 2009). As I discussed in the previous chapter, such activation had been framed in the expert discourse as necessary to rectify the passivity and docility of society, perceived as an unfortunate heritage of the Soviet
socialist past. My ethnographic fieldwork at the unemployment office revealed a
paradox, however. On the one hand, the ‘competitiveness-raising’ seminars were
saturated with the rhetoric of activation. Notions of ‘activity’ and ‘waiting’ were
being problematised in
Epilogue: Waiting for freedom
Where is your responsibility?
Drawing on ethnographic analysis, I have sought to make a number of contributions to social theory in this book. First, I have engaged with the recently
emerging sociology of waiting and theorised waiting as a form of state control (operating at the meso, or policy, level of society), but also as a form of
political subjectivity (at the micro level) and an organising logic legitimating
a national austerity regime (at the macro level). Secondly, the analysis that I
have laid out contributes to the
into a ‘law-and-order state’ (Hyatt 2011).
While drawing on the case study of Latvia, I take a comparative perspective by
situating the Latvian story within this global context as well as vis-à-vis both neoliberal and Soviet logics of governance. The ethnographic perspective that this
book offers shows how austerity has worked as a political and moral as much as
an economic phenomenon. Conceptualised comparatively, this analysis contributes to current debates in sociology and anthropology on the rise of the coercive
state and the aftermath of several decades of
enthusiastically this theme was embraced by many of my informants there. This is because fraternal love is the other side of sectarian hate; both matter, and deeply. In presenting the ethnography below, I have sought to balance these expressions of love and hate in an explicit attempt to avoid emphasising one to the analytical neglect of the other. This seems important, not only in light of Faubion’s (2001: 32–33) warning against pathologising religious activism (in this case, by viewing Orangeism as singularly and pathologically hateful), but also because, by neglecting