This paper attempts to show complexities in theorising politics of production and
factory regimes, as well as in understanding workplaces, worker struggles and
consciousness in post apartheid South Africa. By interrogating Burawoy’s (1979,
1985) politics of production and factory regimes, the paper seek to expand this
analysis of production politics, arguing that a closer look at the Dunlop factory
presents a case for what I call racialised order on the one hand, characterised by
continued racial division of labour and tenuous relations between African working
men and white management. The racialised relations are compounded by perceived
lack of transformation in the management hierarchy. The paper then looks at how
trade union militancy and shop floor mobilisation are constructed by invoking popular
history of trade unions and through shop floor socialisation of new and younger
workers by their older familial networks. The paper also argues that everyday life at
workplace is played out through a construction of a set of unwritten codes of control,
consent and resistance which I have termed shop floor masculine hegemony.
Furthermore the paper asserts that production politics cannot be completely theorised
by analysing factory regimes. The case study at Dunlop show that social formations
beyond the scope of factory floor influence and are invoked in everyday life of
workers in their construction of worker struggles and identity, mediated through rural,
masculine life histories.
The paper is available here.