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1-s2.0-S0304422X1100074X-main.pdf Experiencing unemployment: The roles of social and cultural capital in mediating economic crisis Virgı́lio Borges Pereira Departamento de Sociologia, Faculdade de...

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Experiencing unemployment: The roles of social and
cultural capital in mediating economic crisis
Virgı́lio Borges Pereira
Departamento de Sociologia, Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, Via Panorâmica,
s/número XXXXXXXXXXPorto, Portugal
Available online 24 October 2011
The paper offers an engagement with economic issues, via an exploration of the recent crisis in Northern
Portugal, to discuss the roles of social capital and cultural capital in the configuration of diverse experiences
of unemployment. It focuses on changes over time and on contemporary everyday relations to identify such
experiences. By means of a multiple co
espondence analysis, patterns of sociability are discerned.
Ethnographic material enables these patterns to be qualified and three main types of unemployment
experience are identified, all centred on the idea of unemployment as a space of sociability. The case study
elaborates on and qualifies research inspired by Bourdieu on methodological and theoretical grounds. It
demonstrates the need to qualify statistical patterns emerging from MCA with refined qualitative material
and indicates specific ways in which social and cultural capitals interact with the economic sphere in a
particularly severe economic crisis.
# 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
This paper puts forward an analysis of the experience of economic and social crisis in an
industrialised context in Northwest Portugal, the Ave Valley region. Based on theoretical and
methodological references provided by the sociological work of Bourdieu, the main practical and
symbolic properties of the transformation of the region’s economic activity are explored. In an
industrial context that is historically defined around working-class labour, these transformations
have been experienced, for some decades now, as crisis. One of its main effects, unemployment,
has given rise to complex processes of socialisation, quite apart from comprising an object of
ideological controversy. Results of a sociological and ethnographic research inquiry conducted in
the region over the last two decades have enabled us to document some of the socialising effects
Available online at
Poetics XXXXXXXXXX–490
E-mail address: XXXXXXXXXX.
0304-422X/$ – see front matter # 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.poetic XXXXXXXXXX
of unemployment. Involving the profound transformation of relationships with social time,
particularly changes to daily routines and sociability practices, unemployment appears as a
configuration organised into four ‘‘structural domains’’. This means that unemployment varies
according to (i) the social composition of the agents it affects, (ii) the relationship these agents
maintain with the economic field, (iii) the social capital these agents mobilise, and (iv) the way in
which they view their future social life. Within the framework of such a configuration, the study
identifies three types of experience of unemployment. These experiences are both illuminated by,
and present some challenges for, the work of Bourdieu.
2. Time, meaning and social divisions
Among a great number of innovations, both theoretical and methodological, Bourdieu’s work
has given us the possibility of engaging in new debates concerning social class and class culture
in sociology. Even though not easy to summarize, these innovations have allowed sociologists
studying social class to focus their attention on the decisive questions of socialisation and culture.
By seeking to overcome the antinomy between social physics and phenomenology, Bourdieu
proposed to develop a relational mode of thinking that shaped a research programme anchored in
the conceptual triad of habitus, capital and field. This conceptual triad made it possible to study
the relations between the production of social positions and dispositions, as well as the processes
through which individuals take up such positions, and progressively placed the (re)production of
daily life at the centre of his sociological project. With the help of multiple co
analysis (MCA) and detailed ethnographic work, Bourdieu started to compile a topological
portrait of society. Within this analytic procedure, practices were captured in the frame of the
egularities that made similarities probable not only among social agents’ conditions but also,
and above all, among their positions (dispositions and position-takings). In this sense, Bourdieu’s
approach opened the way, through concerns with modalities of lifestyle production and
eproduction, to an analysis that could be grounded on the historical processes shaping how
classes and class fractions were formed economically, culturally and politically.
Among the different dimensions involved in this project of knowledge, a crucial one is the
question of time. This question was not foreign to Bourdieu’s sociology. Whether in the
pioneering formulations of his study on the societal, cultural and political shock underlying rural
and u
an disenfranchisement in colonial Algeria (Bourdieu and Sayad, 1964), or in formulations
leading to his Esquisse d’une théorie de la pratique (Bourdieu, 1972), and to the studies
developed on cultural capital materialised in La Distinction (Bourdieu, 1984 [1979]) and Le Sens
pratique (Bourdieu, 1990 [1980])—socially constructed time and the relevance of its
embodiment comprise central dimensions of his research. He says:
Social disciplines take the form of temporal disciplines and the whole social order imposes
itself at the deepest level of the bodily dispositions through a particular way of regulating
the use of time, the temporal distribution of collective and individual activities and the
appropriate rhythm with which to perform them. (Bourdieu, 1990 [1980], p. 75)
Given its significance as practice, time could hardly escape the rationale of illusio (Bourdieu,
1997, pp. 247, 250). Thus, in the pursuit of wide-ranging knowledge of social practices, it would
e possible to adopt the times, the uses which individuals made of those times and the manner in
which they represent their relationship to them as a valid research horizon. Bearing in mind the
analytic gains of Bourdieu’s work and Elias’ (Elias and Dunning, 1986) and Épinay’s (Epinay
et al., 1983) studies on the uses of times and spaces, it is possible to develop a programme of
V.B. Pereira / Poetics XXXXXXXXXX–490470
sociological research around the different temporal rhythms that social agents (re)produce in
different social fields.
Building on some of the elements taken from these proposals, we have for the last two decades
attempted to develop an analysis of the processes underlying and reshaping work relationships in
several heavily industrialised contexts in the Ave Valley region, in Northwest Portugal.1 In this
paper, I explore issues related to the modes of reproduction of social classes—paying particula
attention to how their co
esponding social and cultural practices are constituted and the manne
in which they are represented (Bourdieu, 1992, XXXXXXXXXXHaving been progressively translated into
an ‘‘extended case method’’ (Burawoy, 1998), the research has aimed to reconstitute the main
properties of the social space, to study the space of social and cultural practices, and to
understand the effects of unemployment on the relationships between these.
3. Economic activity and the production of social positions
Until about a century ago, images of green fields and farming would have dominated the
portrayal of the Ave Valley region and its ways of life in the Northwest of Portugal. With the
exception of a few more densely u
anized centres, such as Guimarães and Vila Nova de
Famalicão, the fields and peasants still defined an essential part of the landscape and life in the
egion (Ribeiro, 1991 [1945]). However, even back then, it could be seen that the closely
intertwined relationship between the peasant and the landscape would be transformed under the
impact of the industry that was to become firmly established in the region.
Continuing a process of industrialization started previously in the city of Porto – in a trend
emerging at the beginning of the second half of the 19th century and which was to develop
strongly throughout most of the 20th century – the green patchwork fields of the Ave Valley
progressively gave way to agglomerations of manufacturing plants dedicated to thread
production, to weaving and, later on, to clothing (Alves, XXXXXXXXXXIn this process, a number of
factors surfaced that were to play a key role in the genesis of modern industrialization: the driving
force of water; the ancient local traditions of cultivating, spinning and weaving linen; and a high
population density, which together with very intense parcelling of agricultural property,
increased the offer of available labour, thus fostering the search for work outside agriculture. This
led to the emergence and stabilization of domestic workshops and industries and the massive
entry of labour into factories when they were established (Ingerson, 1984).
In an area covering over a thousand square kilometres – within a framework of permanent and
significant demographic dynamism (even today, at a time when the country faces an accelerated
population ageing process, the inhabitants are still quite young) – the region is progressively
defined by a continuous, heightened orientation to industrial economic activity and employment,
particularly in the labour-intensive cotton textile and clothing segments. Considering that today
over 60% of the working population is involved in manufacturing, the entry and permanence of
domestic workshops and factories in the Ave’s fields have not, however, been homogenous. If in
certain areas of the Mid-Ave Valley, a diffused location of industry took place over time; in
others, even though the green fields remained close, very dense areas of manufacturing plants
V.B. Pereira / Poetics XXXXXXXXXX–490 471
1 Our analysis is based on two studies that took place between 1995 and 1999 – involving a survey by questionnaire and
fieldwork in a community of the Guimarães municipality in Northwest Portugal – and on a recently concluded study on
the nea
y municipality of Famalicão. Besides a statistical assessment of the region over the last 50 years, this latte
esearch involved a sociological study of two communities in the Famalicão municipality facing a severe process of
deindustrialisation. This latter study included a survey by questionnaire, a programme of in-depth interviews, and
ethnographic work that took place between June 2009 and September 2010.
were established with a profound impact on the regional landscapes. Thus, the march of industry
through the fields, sustained by a relevant enterprising capacity, was accompanied by anothe
landscape marked by relatively dense manufacturing sites and housing agglomerations, of which
the high chimneys are the most impressive symbol. These are found in centres of historical
industrialization such as those of Santo Tirso and Trofa, Famalicão, Southwest Guimarães o
Vizela (Domingues and Marques, 1987).
In a setting marked by great intensity of daily movement locally and growing commutes
within the region toward these employment hubs (at the beginning on foot, with time, on moped,
y bus – public or the company’s – by train, when possible, or by car), the Ave has, as one of its
most representative social figures, the worker extracted recently from a peasant background
(Silva, 1994; Wall, XXXXXXXXXXMany of these are able to buffer problems and crises due to the
connections they have maintained with the land. However, an industrial working class also
emerged alongside this more rural working class, growing with significant intensity and
structured more closely, residentially speaking, around the large regional manufacturing plants.
The members of this class are defined
Answered Same Day Mar 26, 2020 Swinburne University of Technology


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Essay Plan: Unemployment as a Sociological Concept in the Australian Context
Unemployment is not only an economic problem, but it is a social problem too. If judged from the perspectives of social construction and sociological imagination, it can be seen how unemployment takes the shape of a social problem in many countries across the globe. The social menace of unemployment is also felt in the Australia and the Australian society is highly affected by the problem of unemployment.
Key Points
Social construct is a social mechanism and sometimes it is considered as a phenomenon that is developed by the society. In other words, it is a perception on the part of an individual or group or idea that is eventually and gradually constructed through any cultural or social practice. In this respect the phenomenon of unemployment, in the Australian context, should be considered as a social construction as the menace is both defined and perceived uniquely by the members of the Australian society specifically. Unemployment is a social problem apart from being an economic problem. It has been observed that there is ample evidence to back the argument that the social and health consequences of unemployment are not confined to the individuals who are unemployed or to their family member. Rather, unemployment affects the working life and the entire structure of the society. It has therefore been argued that “mass unemployment might increase the process of social disintegration in society” (Rantakeisu, Sta
in and Hagquist, 1997). In respect of the social construction of unemployment it must also be noted that the experience of unemployment and its perception varies according to some specific aspects including the social composition of the agents that the phenomenon of unemployment affects, the economic relationship between the concerned agents, the social capital that the concerned agents mobilise, and the way in which the agents view their social life (Pereira,...

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