Evaluating the penetration of capitalism in post-socialist Ukraine
Colin C. Williams
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to evaluate critically the meta-narrative that capitalism is becoming totalising and hegemonic. Grounded in an emerging corpus of post-development thought that has deconstructed this discourse in relation to western economies and the majority (third) world, the purpose of this paper is to further contribute to this burgeoning critique by analysing the degree to which capitalism has penetrated a post-socialist society, namely Ukraine. Design/methodology/approach – To analyse the penetration of capitalism, a survey is reported of the work practices of 600 households in a array of localities in Ukraine, conducted during 2005/2006 using face-to-face interviews. Findings – Analysing the practices used by households to secure their livelihoods, the finding is that capitalism is far from hegemonic. Even when the formal economy is relied on either as their most important or second most important source of livelihood, it is nearly always combined with some other economic activity. A diverse portfolio of work practices is thus the norm rather than the exception with over 90 per cent of households relying on sources other than the formal market sphere as either their most important or second most important source of livelihood. Practical implications – Displaying the shallow penetration of capitalism in this array of localities in Ukraine, this paper reveals the need for a re-representation of the realities of work in such post-socialist societies so as to open up the feasibility of, and possibilities for, alternative futures for work. Originality/value – This paper reports the first evaluation of the extent to which capitalism has penetrated work practices in post-socialist Ukraine.
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