Working Time as a Measure of Acceleration of the Serbian Society at the Turn of the Century: Anthropological Analysis

  • Ljubica Milosavljević Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
  • Bogdan Dražeta Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
Keywords:
anthropology of time, business anthropology, social acceleration, working time, employees

Abstract

Multiple processes in modern Serbia occurred at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty first century. Almost all of them regard political, economic, and social changes. Influences caused by these changes can be seen in the social template across the spectrum of plans, encompassing various spheres of life of individuals from business to private, all the way to the point where this division, for many, is gradually disappearing. In that sense, this paper will follow the most anthropologically interesting example of research, the one that follows the influences of the undertaken reform processes and observed changes. This is the example that regards the experience and evaluation of time among employed inhabitants of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia. The aim of this paper was to refer to the results of anthropological fieldwork conducted in 2005, which focused on the experiences, strategies and expectations of employed Belgraders in terms of their working hours and certain temporal boundaries that characterize it. Due to the increasingly intensive business contacts with foreign partners and colleagues since 2000, the working hours of employees were analyzed in a narrower context, as they were on the long list of adjustments, mostly to Western influences. These contacts were not only more frequent after the period of the 1990s, which, among other things, is characterized by a sudden break in cooperation with foreigners, but were often dictated by the EU integration process, the increase of the private sector in which operated companies were oriented towards profit, and the acceleration of time. The last aspect was examined in 2005 through a sample comprising 30 interlocutors of various business backgrounds. The ethnographic material was categorized and analyzed with regard to the differentiation of respondents by age. Fifteen respondents were chosen to represent the older generation (born in the 1940s and 1950s) and as many the younger generation (born in the 1960s and 1980s). The blurring of the boundaries between the employees’ business and private life in Belgrade became more marked at the turn of the century, and it could be clearly stated through the example of working time. Differences between the period of socialism and the period of reforms since the 1990s relate also to a sense of insecurity and fear of losing one's job or having inadequate work, and the simultaneous development of the private sector, which is characterized by stricter rules for employees. More intensive was the influence of business on the private domain of life, but also the intrusion of the private into business life. This has become a necessity and a pledge of individual functioning on both levels, which show combined characteristics of acceleration through the increase of obligations.

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Published
2021-04-17
How to Cite
Milosavljević, Ljubica, and Bogdan Dražeta. 2021. “Working Time As a Measure of Acceleration of the Serbian Society at the Turn of the Century: Anthropological Analysis”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (1), 73–104. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v16i1.3.