The Right to Local Employment: The Case of a Plant Closure in Arad
The struggle against plant closure has long been acknowledged as a "disruption" to the logic of the so-called "free market." Against this background, I wish to critically examine the ways in which plant closures have affected citizenship in a specific peripheral town. I argue that some aspects of labor geography, as related to a combination of locale-identity-citizenship-marginality, have not received sufficient attention. I argue, therefore, that in the neo-liberal-era vacuum created by asymmetric power relationships between corporations, labor unions, and workers themselves, local residents have become agents in the struggle for the right to local employment. Drawing on the case of Standard Textile Arad, I demonstrate how local identity encompasses labor and the plant as collective forms of symbolic capital struggle, and helps mobilize residents during times of crisis. My findings show that the dynamic geography of labor is enriched by an analysis of the mechanisms on a local scale, in which it becomes evident that the process of absorption of local identity elements among local (peripheral) citizens prompts them to take action. It also contributes to the understanding of the effects on collective self-image and feelings towards the danger of urban ruination. As such, localized citizenship alone has limited power in the struggle against neo-liberal policy.