Made in Sheffield: An Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics.
New York: Berghahn Books, 2009.
Address for correspondence: Schweizerisches Sozialarchiv,
Stadelhoferstrasse 12, CH-8001 Zurich, Switzerland.
Massimiliano Mollona is an Italian social anthropologist with an economic background who currently lectures at Goldsmiths, University of London. In Made in Sheffield he focuses on the post-Thatcherist remainders of the once very remarkable Sheffield steel industry, which he describes and analyses through ethnographic methods. While a century ago cutlery from Sheffield was in use across the globe, the city today is dominated by big shopping centers, new leisure developments, and other facilities of the service sector, with the industry and its staff being socially and spatially marginalized. Mollona’s monograph is based on the author’s fieldwork as a worker for two steel companies, Morris Ltd. and Unsor Ltd., whose staff’s working conditions, community life, and self-perceptions form the core of the study. This is skillfully related to broader economic and social trends and combined with class analysis and a critical engagement with current anthropological, sociological, and economic theories. The book is divided into two main parts. “Artisans” provides an analysis of Morris Ltd., a small machine shop working with equipment stemming from the Victorian era, whose workers see themselves as artisans and craftsmen. “Proletarians,” then, concentrates on Unsor Ltd., a large steel factory whose workers consider themselves proletarians. However, within the two companies there are further subdivisions, mainly between workers on “hot” and “cold” steel processes. The “hot” workers experience individual, uncodified, and ephemeral social-labor relations, whereas the “cold” workers are characterized by quantified, standardized, fragmented, and depersonalized knowledge relationships. Workers’ consciousness consequently varies considerably according to their age, personal background, and location in the production process