Julia Soul Somiseros: la configuracion y el devenir de un grupo obrero desde una perspectiva antropologica, Rosario: Prohistoria ediciones, 2014, ISBN 9789871855940, 230 $ARS
Paula Varela La disputa por la dignidad obrera: sindicalismo de base fabril en la zona norte del conurbano bonaerense 2003-2014, Buenos Aires: Imago Mundi, 2015, ISBN 9789597931925, 250 $ARS
In contrast with the social movement focus of the previous decade, the last few years have seen a renewal of traditional labour movement studies in Argentina. This has been partly a consequence of the improved socio-political and economic landscape following the 2001 crisis. The economic growth and the centrality given to collective bargaining and tripartite agreements in industrial relations have empowered trade union structures at central and workplace level, favouring the re-emergence of grassroots organizations and workplace labour conflict in the formal sector of the economy. This renewal of traditional workers' struggles--often associated with issues of workers' representation, trade union democracy and work precarity--has thus provided a fertile soil for research to a young generation of left-oriented researchers.
The books reviewed in this article, although from different theoretical and disciplinary angles and political nuances, represent well this return to the normality' of the capital-labour relationship and to the management of labour conflict in formal sector workplaces and within the traditional institutional regulatory framework, far from the anti-politics and the anti-institutional social mobilizations of the early 2000s.
The book by Julia Soul, Somiseros, using oral history interviews and ethnographic methods, offers an anthropological perspective of workers' collective formations and identities in a steel company, SOMISA, across time. This long-term perspective is developed through three chronological phases, each corresponding to a particular configuration of the capital-labour relations in the plant: the creation and expansion of the state company in the 1960s; the tension for the processes of rationalization of the 1980s and the privatization of the early 1990s; and the downsizing, flexibilization and exposition to world market as part of the transnational steel giant Techint from the 2000s to the current days. This long-term perspective gives the possibility of identifying and delving deep into the collective practices and processes constituted through what the author calls the cotidianeidad fabril (everyday...