Market Communities : The Social Life Of ( Not )

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MARKET COMMUNITIES: THE SOCIAL LIFE OF (NOT SO) FICTITIOUS COMMODITIES Economic survival through competition in labor marketplaces pits jornaleros against one another, undermining yet not destroying other sources of solidarity. Market competition is the first mechanism in the production of individualized subjects under conditions that otherwise suggest collective solidarity. To the extent that livelihood depends upon a competition, a community of jornaleros becomes impossible. Yet, to the extent that labor is a “fictitious commodity” (Polanyi 2001), day laborers fulfill in this market-place a number of necessities that make their precarious lives tolerable and even enjoyable. Hanging Out Together, Surviving on your own. Vicente, a former union leader in his country of origin, never opens his mouth at the center. A socialist minded, mild-mannered and qualified truck mechanic, he became unable to perform his trade after a severe injury in his lower back. Although he had a chance to recover his job after recuperating from his surgery, he became unable to lift heavy weights. He thus was fired soon after. Vicente is currently in his late fifties and lives in a shelter with no realistic hope to improve his situation in the U.S. He could go back to his country, where his wife has a job and a house, but a deep shame of returning home with nothing prevents him from making that decision. In the hallway outside the center, he reflects on the failure of day labor organization, spelling
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