Changes in Work Relations and Mobility in Northern Kazakhstan's Farm

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:18
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Piotr ZULIKOWSKI, Instytut Socjologii, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Poland
In my paper I’ll show how changes in property relations and subsequent changes in work relations shape mobility of workers in Northern Kazakhstan grain farm. The dissolution of USSR brought farming in Kazakhstan, its former “eastern granary”, into deep crisis. Most of state farms (‘sowhoz’) disintegrated while only some of cooperative farm (‘kolkhoz’) survived, though faced financial problems for long. The economic crisis of the 1990s and concerns of Russian speaking inhabitants about living in Kazakh’s national state created mass emigration from Northern Kazakhstan.

The former kolkhoz I conducted research is relatively successful economically and it’s preservation and development stands in firm contrast to the general state of agriculture sector in Northern Kazakhstan. The privatization process resulting in acquisition majority of the shares by director put most of the workers – now minor shareholders - in unfavorable position. Yet, because of general scarcity of trained agricultural workers in Kazakhstan the economic performance strongly depend on the ability to keep it’s workforce. Farm’s management uses variety of means to achieve this goal e.g. paying in kind, refusing to buy shares of those who want to migrate, funding a scholarship to secure somebody’s return to the village and launching initiatives designed to strengthening inhabitants ties with the region. My aim is to show how current transformations are understood in peoples narrations and how they shape their sense of agency.

The basis of the paper is an analysis of biographical interviews with former members of four cooperatives (now merged into one company) made in northern Kazakhstan as well as in Poland, Russia and Germany.