Global Discourse
An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs

The ‘hardship’ of ordinary crises: gendered precariousness and horizons of coping in Vietnam’s industrial zones

Author: Helle Rydstrom1
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  • 1 Lund University, , Sweden
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This article explores crisis as social dynamics spurred by events that not only disrupt the normal order of things, but also transmute into crisis processes that generate persisting hardship and problems of the ordinary. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the industrial zones of Northern Vietnam, the article highlights the ways in which women workers manage crisis as an underlying condition of daily life. Capturing the heterogeneity and volatility of crisis means to unravel the modalities, intensities and temporalities by which a specific crisis is composed, and to identify how it interlocks with socio-economic crisis antecedents, such as gender and class. While crisis takes different shapes and undergoes various phases, a crisis tends to entangle itself with already-existing crises, fuelling or even exacerbating those, while fostering crises entanglements that impose difficulties and harm upon lifeworlds. The differentiated ways in which particular social groups can mitigate crisis challenges and build social resilience depend on ‘horizons of coping’, which inform the scales and impacts of crises entanglements. Thus, crisis studies direct our attention towards human precariousness and societal inequalities, as well as the ways in which crises entanglements are counteracted, closed, navigated or endured in specific ethnographic contexts.

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