Making and Breaking the Yugoslav Working Class
The Story of Two Self-Managed Factories
Workers' self-management was one of the unique features of communist Yugoslavia. Goran Musić has investigated the changing ways in which blue-collar workers perceived the recurring crises of the regime. Two self-managed metal enterprises, one in Serbia another in Slovenia, provide the frame of the analysis in the time span between 1945 and 1989. These two factories became famous for strikes in 1988 that evoked echoes in popular discourses in former Yugoslavia. Drawing on interviews, factory publications and other media, local archives, and secondary literature, Musić analyzes the two cases, going beyond the clichés of political manipulation from the top and workers' intrinsic attraction to nationalism.
The author explains how, in the later phase of communist Yugoslavia, growing social inequalities among the workers and undemocratic practices inside the self-managed enterprises facilitated the spread of a nationalist and pro-market ideology on the shop floors. Yet rather than being a mass taken advantage of by populist leaders, the working class Musić presents is one with agency and voice, a force that played an important role in shaping the fate of the country. The book thus seeks to open a debate on the social processes leading up to the dissolution of Yugoslavia.
About the Author
Goran Musić is a research fellow at the Research Platform for the Study of Transformations and Eastern Europe, University of Vienna.
As the first documented history of labor in Tito's Yugoslavia that draws on a wide range of sources, Making and Breaking the Yugoslav Working Class represents a milestone for the historiography of the region. Capturing the diversity of the Yugoslav labor force in the country's turbulent 1980s, Musić demonstrates that, rather than being a mass easily manipulated by nationalist or populist politicians, Yugoslavia's workers were actors in their own right. By restoring the voice of the working class in history, this book not only adds to labor history but reshapes Yugoslav studies and studies of state collapse more broadly.—Vladimir Unkovski-Korica
Other Titles in HISTORY / Europe / Eastern
Other Titles in Social & cultural history