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Culture/economy and spaces of economic practice: positioning households in post-communism

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Many recent attempts to understand the role of household food production and forms of reciprocal inter-household networks in ‘post-communist’ East Europe have argued that such economic activities represent a rational response to the austerity brought by economic decline and contracting incomes during the ‘transition to capitalism’. Through an exploration of the spaces of household economic practice concerned with food production on family plots of land and with inter-household networks of reciprocity, this paper argues that such activities can be better situated within the context of the articulation between deep-seated and long-standing economic practices imbued with cultural significance and current practices in the formal, emerging capitalist economy. The paper explores the inter-section and interweaving of these ‘cultural’ and ‘economic’ practices through the lens of the largely non-market production of surplus product, value and exchange in and between households. It draws upon research with households in two contrasting sites in Slovakia, and highlights the significance of an historical and more nuanced understanding of the constitution of conventionally conceived ‘survival strategies’ in East-Central Europe. Such a consideration of the almost ‘mundane’ practices of everyday household production and reciprocity enables an opening of our conceptions of economic forms in post-socialist societies.
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Keywords: Eastern Europe; culture/economy; household food production; household ‘survival strategies’; reciprocity

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Southampton [email protected]

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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