The Liminal Worker: An Ethnography of Work, Unemployment and Precariousness in Contemporary Greece, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Liminal Worker

An Ethnography of Work, Unemployment and Precariousness in Contemporary Greece, 1st Edition

By Manos Spyridakis


274 pages

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The Liminal Worker examines the experience of work, employment, employment insecurity and precariousness in a context of high unemployment and welfare state crisis in modern Greece. A theoretically-informed, anthropological exploration of the notion of work in contemporary western society and its relation to processes of political decision making, this book challenges the mainstream conception of work as an economic or purely productive activity, presenting a comparative analysis of work as a social phenomenon. Drawing on original empirical research, it explores the key themes of the transformation, experience, meaning and narrative of work and its relation to attendant social policies. A unique examination of the complicated experience of work and labour relations within power systems, institutions and organisations, as well as the reactions and survival strategies of ordinary actors facing precariousness in their daily existence, The Liminal Worker elaborates upon the notion of the anthropology of work and investigates the connection between ethnographic data (and its critical analysis) and the formation of policy. As such, it will be of interest to anthropologists, sociologists, policy makers and geographers concerned with questions of work, labour relations and policy formation.


'Manos Spyridakis’s ethnography unravels the perplexities of globalisation as Greek workers in banking, shipbuilding and tobacco industries struggle to make their livings in the unknowable spaces between steady work and under-, partial-, informal and unemployment. It is a must for anyone interested in economics, globalisation, politics or people in today’s world and required reading for courses on globalisation.’ Paul Durrenberger. Emeritus, Universities of Iowa and Penn State, USA ’The Liminal Worker shows how governments embracing market ideology are blinded to the lives of their citizens. Using extensive field research, it shows how making labour flexible� makes people’s lives fragile, upending their plans, their families and their sense of who they thought they were: conscientious and industrious people seeking to lead decent lives.’ James Carrier, Oxford Brookes University, UK '… Spyridakis’ well-informed ethnography presents a valuable anthropological critique of mainstream economic studies with their emphasis on rationality� and free choice�.' Social Cohesion and Development 'Interested readers, especially from anthropology, European history, and labour studies, will find an important and compelling ethnography that uncovers the realities of living proximate to, but marginalised from, work stability. Read either as an ethnographic monograph or vis-à-vis extracted chapters, Spyridakis’ comprehensive research will contribute greatly to undergraduate and graduate students’ curricula and scholarly knowledge on work and its erosion under neoliberal capitalism.' Anthropological Forum 'This research monograph draws on a very rich empirical analysis and provides a multi-faceted picture of the lives of the subjects under investigation. The work provides ample and detailed anthropological narratives on the adversities that the subjects face and the experience of liminality, insecurity and alienation that they are subjected to.

About the Author

Manos Spyridakis is Assistant Professor of the Social Anthropology of Labour Relations in the Department of Social and Educational Policy at the University of the Peloponnese, Greece.

About the Series

Urban Anthropology

Urban Anthropology
The first series of its kind to be established by a major academic press, Urban Anthropology publishes ethnographically global, original, empirically-based works of high analytical and theoretical calibre, all of which are peer reviewed. The series publishes sole-authored and edited manuscripts that address key issues that have comparative value in the current international academic and political debates. These issues include, but are by no means limited to: the methodological challenges posed by urban field research; the role of kinship, family and social relations; the gap between citizenship and governance; the legitimacy of policy and the law; the relationships between the legal, the semi-legal and the illegal in the economic and political fields; the role of conflicting moralities across the social, cultural and political spectra; the problems raised by internal and international migration; the informal sector of the economy and its complex relationships with the formal sector and the law; the impact of the process of globalization on the local level and the significance of local dynamics in the global context; urban development, sustainability and global restructuring; conflict and competition within and between cities.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural