Just Labor
Labor Ethics in a Post-Soviet
Reindeer Herding Community
Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology No. 40

By Vladislava Vladimirova
December 2006
Uppsala University
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 915546727X                   
433 pages, Illustrated, 6 1/8 x 8 3/4"
$82.50 Paper Original

This is a Ph.D dissertation.

This book explores the main ethical norms that influence labor in reindeer herding in the European part of the Russian North (Murmansk Region). It is based on the assumption that Soviet ideological discourse of labor has been reinterpreted in practice, and has shaped specific patterns of work that may seem contradictory to their official source. Post-Soviet political and socio-economic changes triggered a mobilization of familiar patterns for social security, including the sphere of labor. This reinforced the influence of Soviet patterns of social relations and put an imprint on post-Soviet work, which presents a specific way of continuation and reinterpretation of the previously dominant social norms and values.

The empirical basis of this study comes from a one year and a half field investi-gation of reindeer herding in the Kola Peninsula. Specific interest is turned to current reindeer herding specifics at Tundra Cooperative, the successor of the Soviet state reindeer herding enterprise (sovkhoz) of the village of Lovozero, and in the controversial development of Sami attempts at private herding in the newly born obshchiny. Labor ethic is the field that most graphically features the contrast between the two models they embody: the ultimate reliance on the familiar Soviet pattern, on the one hand, and the holding to the potentially innovative imported discourse of traditional ethnic culture, on the other. In the final account, both groups of users stand on two differing economic platforms, but share a common set of cultural assumptions about economic patterns of profitability and work morality.

Economic History

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