Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt by Samer S. Shehata

By Samer S. Shehata

In store flooring tradition and Politics in Egypt, Samer S. Shehata presents us with a different and particular ethnographic portrait of lifestyles inside huge cloth factories in Alexandria, Egypt. operating for almost a yr as a “winding desktop operator” supplied Shehata with extraordinary entry to staff on the element of construction and the actions of the paintings corridor. He argues that the social association of construction within the factories—including corporation principles and approaches, hierarchy, and kin of authority—and store flooring tradition profoundly form what it potential to be a “worker” and the way this id is known. Shehata unearths how fiscal family contained in the manufacturing unit are concurrently kinfolk of importance and which means, and the way the creation of wool and cotton textiles is, even as, the creation of different types of id, styles of human interplay, and understandings of the self and others.

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It is an essential part of shop floor culture. Tea and the tea ritual are significant not only in terms of how they are experienced by workers on the shop floor, but also because they are quite distinctively working class. Although everyone in the factory, and for that matter in the entire company, from the lowest porter to the chief executive officer, has tea each and every work day, the particular way tea is consumed on the shop floor clearly distinguishes workers as a group from nonworkers. 19 The pushing, shoving, and jockeying for position around an overturned istawana (barrel), the playful fighting for an 28 SHOP FLOOR CULTURE AND POLITICS IN EGYPT extra spoon of sugar, the splashing of water on workmates, all of this only occurs on the factory floor.

Payday is also an occasion to settle debts and pay off loans. Wages are low, life is expensive, and getting into a jam isn’t difficult. Borrowing money from a co-worker, a friend in the factory, or a relative outside is, therefore, relatively common. Usually, relatively small amounts of money are involved and if the loan or debt is to be paid off in installments, which is frequently the case, payment occurs at the end of each muda, on paydays. Similarly, if a worker (or an employee) has made a purchase from the annual company sale (such as a television, refrigerator, or clothing), deductions from wages are made at the end of each muda.

During this preparatory period I learned about the firm’s internal structure and organizational culture, the production process involved in manufacturing woven fabric out of raw wool and cotton and, very importantly, how to operate the machine I would eventually work on. The second company I worked in was a large textile firm on the outskirts of Alexandria. This company, which I will call Misr Textiles, was a fully integrated spinning and weaving operation, taking in raw cotton and producing finished fabric and ready-made garments for both the local and foreign markets.

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