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From Pioneers to Target Group: Social Change, Ethnicity and Memory in a Lithuanian Nuclear Power Plant Community

Sliavaite, Kristina LU (2005) In Lund Monographs in Social Anthropology 16.
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling i socialantropologi ägnas åt analysen av sociala och kulturella processer i Visaginassamhället efter sovjettiden. Visaginas (tidigare Sniechkus) byggdes under sovjettiden, åren 1975-1989, som hemvist för personal vid Ignalinas kärnkraftverk och deras familjer. De flesta invånarna i staden är ryssar som kom till Litauen mellan 1975 och 1989 för att bygga kärnkraftverket och samhället. Fram tills nu står Ignalinas kärnkraftverk som garant för regelbundna inkomster och social säkerhet för en stor del av Visaginas invånare. Men kraftverket, som är stadens största arbetsgivare, måste stängas år 2010 i enlighet med de internationella avtalen i samband med Litauens anslutning till EU.... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Denna avhandling i socialantropologi ägnas åt analysen av sociala och kulturella processer i Visaginassamhället efter sovjettiden. Visaginas (tidigare Sniechkus) byggdes under sovjettiden, åren 1975-1989, som hemvist för personal vid Ignalinas kärnkraftverk och deras familjer. De flesta invånarna i staden är ryssar som kom till Litauen mellan 1975 och 1989 för att bygga kärnkraftverket och samhället. Fram tills nu står Ignalinas kärnkraftverk som garant för regelbundna inkomster och social säkerhet för en stor del av Visaginas invånare. Men kraftverket, som är stadens största arbetsgivare, måste stängas år 2010 i enlighet med de internationella avtalen i samband med Litauens anslutning till EU. Sovjetunionens sammanbrott och Ignalinas stängning får djupgående konsekvenser för Visaginasborna: landet de kom ifrån och arbetat för, finns inte längre, den arbetsplats som varit deras kommer att stängas.



Huvudfrågeställningar i den föreliggande avhandlingen är således följande: vad sker med ett samhälle som förkroppsligat ett visst socialt, ekonomiskt och politiskt system, när detta system bryter samman? Hur bedömer, upplever och anpassar sig samhällets tidigare ledande folkgrupp till de allomfattande sociala, ekonomiska och kulturella förändringar som Sovjetunionens sammanbrott och Ignalinas stängning medför?



Avhandlingen består av nio kapitel. Första kapitlet är ett introduktionskapitel. Här presenteras en utförlig diskussion av forskningsfrågorna. Vidare ges en översikt över det undersökta samhällets viktigaste sociala, ekonomiska och etniska karakteristika, samt en diskussion av de i avhandlingen viktigaste använda termerna. Avhandlingens teoretiska utgångspunkter omfattar antropologiska studier i, och teorier för, socialismens och postsocialismens respektive Central- och Östeuropas antropologi, avindustrialiseringens, arbetslöshetens och "förfallets" antropologi, undersökningar av ryssar och rysktalande grupper i det postsovjetiska området samt teorier för socialt minne och risk.



I andra kapitlet diskuteras bland annat metodologiska aspekter på fältarbetet och hur fältarbetet har genomförts. Avhandlingens empiriska material är insamlat av författaren i Visaginas under åren 2000-2004. I tredje kapitlet analyseras de principer för social differentiering i samhället som utmärker Visaginas och hur samhället uppfattas av olika aktörer. I det fjärde kapitlet analyseras hur informanterna konstruerar sitt förflutna och sin nutid samt hur ett kollektivt/socialt minne uttrycks av olika informanter. Vid analyser av kollektivt minne har störst uppmärksamhet riktats mot informanter av den äldre generationen som levt en stor del av sina liv under det sovjetiska systemet.



För att förstå informanternas bedömning av förändringar som skett efter Sovjetunionens sammanbrott är Visaginasbornas syn på Ignalina kärnkraftverks stängning viktig. Dessa frågor analyseras i femte kapitlet. I sjätte kapitlet analyseras etniska processer i Visaginas efter sovjettiden. I sjunde kapitlet analyseras medborgerliga identiteter, olika generationers kopplingar till det historiska/etniska hemlandet samt förståelsen av medborgarskapet. I det åttonde kapitlet undersöks och analyseras hur olika informanter framställer och bedömer sociala och ekonomiska förändringar efter sovjettiden samt hur de anpassar sig till dem. I det nionde kapitlet sammanfattas avhandlingen och här anges de slutsatser som kan dras.



Det havdas att studien av Visaginas samhälle efter Sovjeteran bidrar såväl empiriskt som teoretiskt till forskningsfälten i flera avseenden:



För det första bidrar fältstudien av Visaginas samhälle till vår förståelse av vilken betydelse makroprojekt ("grand projects") och makroideologier ("grand ideologies") såsom modernisering och/eller byggandet av ett kommunistiskt samhälle har för människors liv. Vad händer med människorna som befann sig i projektets mitt när detta avbryts? Det hävdas att de strukturella förändringarna på makronivån och den officiella devalveringen av vissa ideologier medför att nya identiteter skapas, liksom nya former för solidaritet samt hur det förflutna och nuet konstrueras. Vi bevittnar hur de essentiella aspekterna av att vara en social varelse, som etnicitet, religion, medborgerlig identitet, yrkesidentitet, genomgår en grundläggande omformulering.



För det andra kan den här studien betraktas som en studie i socialismens och postsocialismens antropologi och utgöra ett bidrag till detta forskningsfält. I avhandlingen hävdas att man i vissa specifika fall, såsom i Visaginas-fallet, kan tala om en sorts "försenad" socialism och därmed också långsammare post-socialismprocess.



För det tredje bidrar den här studien till forskningen kring avindustrialisering, som är ett klassiskt forskningsfält vilket mestadels har täckts av ekonomer och sociologer och som baserats på storskaliga undersökningar. Det antropologiska perspektivet innebär en fokusering på mikronivån, dvs individnivån, med dess erfarenheter av avindustrialisering och ekonomisk omstrukturering.



Visaginas-studien kan också ses som en möjlighet att undersöka begreppet "förfall" (decline). Det hävdas att vi måste skilja på faktiska förfallsprocesser och berättelser om "förfall" eller inbillat förfall. Berättelser om förfall är en viktig aspekt av faktiska processer och har påverkan på dessa processer och sociala aktörers överlevnadsstrategier.



För det femte ger denna studie ett empiriskt material för studier av ryska befolkningsgrupper i det postsovjetiska området. Det etnografiska materialet ger kunskap om hur den rysktalande befolkningen i Visaginas konstruerar sin livsvärld, diskuterar de förändrade etniska respektive medborgerliga identiteterna och vilka formerna för solidaritet med värdsamhället är, samt anpassningen till dessa förändringar. (Less)
Abstract
This thesis focused on an examination of human agency and strategies for responding to rapid social and economic change. Fieldwork was carried out in the community of Visaginas town that was built during the Soviet period in Lithuania. The town is situated next to the Ignalina nuclear power plant. The majority of the town's inhabitants are Russians who immigrated to Lithuania from other areas of the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s to work on the construction of the nuclear power plant and the settlement, and, later at the plant.



A condition for Lithuanias membership into the EU was to halt the production of nuclear power from this plant which is considered a "Chernobyl" type plant. Thus, in accordance with international... (More)
This thesis focused on an examination of human agency and strategies for responding to rapid social and economic change. Fieldwork was carried out in the community of Visaginas town that was built during the Soviet period in Lithuania. The town is situated next to the Ignalina nuclear power plant. The majority of the town's inhabitants are Russians who immigrated to Lithuania from other areas of the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s to work on the construction of the nuclear power plant and the settlement, and, later at the plant.



A condition for Lithuanias membership into the EU was to halt the production of nuclear power from this plant which is considered a "Chernobyl" type plant. Thus, in accordance with international agreements, the plant, which is the major employer of local population, must be stopped by 2010. The people in Visaginas are profoundly affected by the structural changes related with the break up of the Soviet Union and the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant: the country they came from and worked for no longer exists; and the nuclear power plant, the institution which provides many of Visaginas inhabitants with employment is to be decommissioned.



The main research questions examined in this thesis are the following: What happens to a community, which was considered to be the very embodiment of the achievements of a social, economic, political system, when this system collapses; and, how do members of a formerly elite community experience and adjust to the demise of the structures that were of key importance in their lives?



The thesis has nine chapters. In the first chapter the theoretical background of the study, as well as site under study are introduced. The theoretical background of the thesis includes the anthropological theories and studies of socialism and post-socialism or East Central Europe, anthropological studies of decline, studies of deindustrialization and unemployment, studies of Russians and Russian speaking population in the post-Soviet space.



The second chapter discusses methodological aspects of the fieldwork, the organization of the fieldwork and presents an overview of main data obtained while conducting anthropological fieldwork in Visaginas between 2000-2004.



The third chapter aims at an analysis of Visaginas community as a social unit. My analysis focuses on the different social groupings in the community as perceived by different actors. The contestation and maintenance of the boundaries between different social groups in Visaginas points to certain criteria of stratification of the community, and provides an understanding of the ways the social world is constructed by different actors.



The fourth chapter analyses how informants construct their past and the present, how social memory is articulated by different informants. Memory is important in understanding the ways informants interpret and experience the post-Soviet transformations.



The fifth chapter focuses on subjective interpretations of the Ignalina nuclear power plant decommissioning by inhabitants of Visaginas. The chapter takes into consideration the broader public discussions on Ignalina nuclear power plant closure. The issues of "risk" construction were examined since formally the plant is being closed due to its "Chernobyl" type construction which is considered unsafe.



The sixth chapter focuses on ethnic processes in Visaginas in the post-Soviet period. This is another important social dimension in understanding peoples experiences and responses to the demise of the key structures.



The seventh chapter examines civic identities and the linkages kept by members of different generations with their (historic/ethnic) homelands. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in Visaginas found themselves separated by new borders from their countries of origin and relatives. An examination of the ways the informants in Visaginas conceptualize their sense of belonging to some political community(ies) is important to understanding their strategies for resisting possible unemployment after the Ignalina nuclear power plant closure.



The eighth chapter focuses on the ways different social actors interpret and adapt to socio-economic transformations. This focus of my research reveals the variety of strategies employed by individuals, as well as leading to a discussion of certain aspects of how the self is conceptualized and located in the broader power structure and how this influences the strategies individuals employ.



Finally, chapter nine summarizes the findings and suggests possible directions for future research. It is argued that the case study of Visaginas makes some contribution to the anthropology of socialism and post-socialism, the anthropology of de-industrialization and decline, to our understanding of impact of such grand projects and ideologies as modernization, "building of communism" on humans lives, and lastly, contributes to studies of the Russian-speaking population in post-Soviet space. (Less)
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author
supervisor
opponent
  • Prof. Dr., Director Hann, Chris, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Sociala problem, Ignalina nuclear power plant, Deindustrialization, post-socialism, East Central Europe, ethnicity, collective memory, social change, Russian speaking population, decline, modernization, migration, enclave, risk, social insecurity, uncertainty, national insurance, Social problems and welfare, social välfärd, socialförsäkring, Cultural anthropology, ethnology, Kulturantropologi, etnologi
in
Lund Monographs in Social Anthropology
volume
16
pages
206 pages
publisher
Department of Sociology, Lund University
defense location
Palaestra, Lund University
defense date
2005-11-25 10:15
ISSN
1101-9948
ISBN
91-7267-202-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
f5fdec4a-e13c-462e-8825-a1ccafae2470 (old id 25178)
date added to LUP
2007-06-01 09:46:57
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:54
@phdthesis{f5fdec4a-e13c-462e-8825-a1ccafae2470,
  abstract     = {This thesis focused on an examination of human agency and strategies for responding to rapid social and economic change. Fieldwork was carried out in the community of Visaginas town that was built during the Soviet period in Lithuania. The town is situated next to the Ignalina nuclear power plant. The majority of the town's inhabitants are Russians who immigrated to Lithuania from other areas of the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s to work on the construction of the nuclear power plant and the settlement, and, later at the plant.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
A condition for Lithuanias membership into the EU was to halt the production of nuclear power from this plant which is considered a "Chernobyl" type plant. Thus, in accordance with international agreements, the plant, which is the major employer of local population, must be stopped by 2010. The people in Visaginas are profoundly affected by the structural changes related with the break up of the Soviet Union and the decommissioning of the Ignalina nuclear power plant: the country they came from and worked for no longer exists; and the nuclear power plant, the institution which provides many of Visaginas inhabitants with employment is to be decommissioned.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The main research questions examined in this thesis are the following: What happens to a community, which was considered to be the very embodiment of the achievements of a social, economic, political system, when this system collapses; and, how do members of a formerly elite community experience and adjust to the demise of the structures that were of key importance in their lives?<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The thesis has nine chapters. In the first chapter the theoretical background of the study, as well as site under study are introduced. The theoretical background of the thesis includes the anthropological theories and studies of socialism and post-socialism or East Central Europe, anthropological studies of decline, studies of deindustrialization and unemployment, studies of Russians and Russian speaking population in the post-Soviet space.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The second chapter discusses methodological aspects of the fieldwork, the organization of the fieldwork and presents an overview of main data obtained while conducting anthropological fieldwork in Visaginas between 2000-2004.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The third chapter aims at an analysis of Visaginas community as a social unit. My analysis focuses on the different social groupings in the community as perceived by different actors. The contestation and maintenance of the boundaries between different social groups in Visaginas points to certain criteria of stratification of the community, and provides an understanding of the ways the social world is constructed by different actors.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The fourth chapter analyses how informants construct their past and the present, how social memory is articulated by different informants. Memory is important in understanding the ways informants interpret and experience the post-Soviet transformations.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The fifth chapter focuses on subjective interpretations of the Ignalina nuclear power plant decommissioning by inhabitants of Visaginas. The chapter takes into consideration the broader public discussions on Ignalina nuclear power plant closure. The issues of "risk" construction were examined since formally the plant is being closed due to its "Chernobyl" type construction which is considered unsafe.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The sixth chapter focuses on ethnic processes in Visaginas in the post-Soviet period. This is another important social dimension in understanding peoples experiences and responses to the demise of the key structures.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The seventh chapter examines civic identities and the linkages kept by members of different generations with their (historic/ethnic) homelands. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, people in Visaginas found themselves separated by new borders from their countries of origin and relatives. An examination of the ways the informants in Visaginas conceptualize their sense of belonging to some political community(ies) is important to understanding their strategies for resisting possible unemployment after the Ignalina nuclear power plant closure.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The eighth chapter focuses on the ways different social actors interpret and adapt to socio-economic transformations. This focus of my research reveals the variety of strategies employed by individuals, as well as leading to a discussion of certain aspects of how the self is conceptualized and located in the broader power structure and how this influences the strategies individuals employ.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
Finally, chapter nine summarizes the findings and suggests possible directions for future research. It is argued that the case study of Visaginas makes some contribution to the anthropology of socialism and post-socialism, the anthropology of de-industrialization and decline, to our understanding of impact of such grand projects and ideologies as modernization, "building of communism" on humans lives, and lastly, contributes to studies of the Russian-speaking population in post-Soviet space.},
  author       = {Sliavaite, Kristina},
  isbn         = {91-7267-202-1},
  issn         = {1101-9948},
  keyword      = {Sociala problem,Ignalina nuclear power plant,Deindustrialization,post-socialism,East Central Europe,ethnicity,collective memory,social change,Russian speaking population,decline,modernization,migration,enclave,risk,social insecurity,uncertainty,national insurance,Social problems and welfare,social välfärd,socialförsäkring,Cultural anthropology,ethnology,Kulturantropologi,etnologi},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {206},
  publisher    = {Department of Sociology, Lund University},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Lund Monographs in Social Anthropology},
  title        = {From Pioneers to Target Group: Social Change, Ethnicity and Memory in a Lithuanian Nuclear Power Plant Community},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2005},
}