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Title: The politics of value-creation : struggles for self-determination and social rersponsibility in the empresas recuperadas
Author: Bryer, Alice
ISNI:       0000 0004 2677 7627
Awarding Body: The University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis presents a theoretical and ethnographically grounded analysis of the empresas recuperadas (ERs), worker cooperatives established during Argentina's 2001 socio-economic crisis, to explore whether cooperatives can be transfonnative modes of social production. It develops Marx's analyses of alienation and the labour process to identify and explain the widely different experiences of individual ERs. Responding to the effects of neoliberal restructuring, thousands of workers revived bankrupt or abandoned companies across Argentina, often using assembly-based decisionmaking. The literature often adopts a postmodern approach, which sees the ERs as achieving autonomy through new social relations from below. A wider literature promotes cooperatives as part of a social economy, which reinvigorates profitability through new social relations of solidarity. Despite differences, uniting these positions is their failure to recognise limits, that is, their erasure of alienation. By focusing on relations in production, they overlook their embeddedness within relations of production, depoliticising the labour process as a valuecreating process and denying the possibilities for self-realisation. To recapture these possibilities and explore the limits, the thesis proposes the concept of the politics of value-creation, which it defines as the dynamic social embeddedness of purposive economic action. Exploring this idea through the lens of cooperatives will show that the socialisation of relations in production tends to increase workers' subjective awareness of relations of production - and that this is central to understanding their transformative potentials. Through eight case studies, the concept of the politics of value-creation develops into an expanded theorisation of capital to explore how struggles over the material and valuecreating dimensions of production interacted with wider changes in state-society relations. Conceiving class as workers' experiences and response to capital highlights how social sUbjectivities also shaped and were shaped by their linkages to state and civil society, within the changing institutional field of Argentina. Analysis of this particular context shows that cooperatives can contain new elements and reshape the detennining limits of the system even as they reproduce its contradictions. The thesis explores the transfonnative institutionality of Peronism as a decentralised form of state power and social movement, which historically has blurred the boundaries between state and society. It examines the emergence of the ERs as a political force organised by a Peronist leadership that consciously sought to reshape institutional frontiers. The concept of the politics of value-creation theorises how these wider dynamics affected variation in the labour processes. It identifies two divergent dynamics of class - conceived as 'capital-centred' and 'worker-centred' socialisation - and shows the particular ways in which they interacted with changing institutional contexts. Analysis shows that the financial management of many ERs reproduced individualising elements of the state. Yet the most innovative cases sought to overcome this through changes in their accounting and the state's regulatory apparatuses, towards building new kinds of societal control. The thesis concludes that only by understanding the socially objective limits of cooperatives can we also see their potentials. It develops the idea of a self-regulating society to provide a critique of the social economy as the internal socialisation of capitalism as an objective economic system and as an institutional response to the creation of new human needs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available