Applying a new materialist analysis, this paper reports findings from a qualitative study of young workers in contemporary Russia to address how more-than-human materialities can be materially affective in the workplace, producing and reproducing context-specific capacities and incapacities. Social advantages and disadvantages derive from these disparities in capacities: what bodies can do economically, socially, physically, psychologically and politically. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 37 Russian workers aged 16-29 from the Ural Federal District of western Siberia: of these, 16 respondents worked in industry, while 21 were in retail and service sectors. The data revealed a wide range of non-human matter that affected respondent’s capacities, producing opportunities and constraints on their work and development. Some of these everyday ‘tiny dis/advantages’ may accrue over time into more lasting advantage or disadvantage. We conclude that – alongside economic resources and social support – the myriad interactions with non-human matter in workplaces contribute to relative dis/advantage. We suggest that a focus on tiny dis/advantages both complements and refines conventional sociocultural analyses of material dis/advantage and social inequality.
|Journal||International Social Science Journal|
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 19 Aug 2022|