Autonomy or Disavowal of Socioeconomic Context

The Case of Law for Independent Cultural Workers in Slovenia

in Historical Materialism
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In the context of late capitalism, cultural producers have contributed to the process of precarisation by embracing ideas of autonomy, concomitantly contributing to neoliberal policies and political-economy. I scrutinise the claim for the autonomy of the arts in Eastern Europe, a context that exemplifies the transition from socialism to the neoliberal era. The analysis foregrounds the precarious working conditions of cultural producers during the transition from self-managed socialism to the independent nation-state of Slovenia. In Slovenia, the precarisation of artists had already begun in the 1980s when the socialist government implemented the Law for the Independent Cultural Workers, still in place today. I demonstrate that cultural producers address their working conditions in ideological terms (autonomy), instead of approaching them in terms of class relations that govern cultural production (labour issues). Hence, the claim for autonomy is a strategically misguided response to the dismantling of the welfare state.

Autonomy or Disavowal of Socioeconomic Context

The Case of Law for Independent Cultural Workers in Slovenia

in Historical Materialism



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  • View in gallery
    Sanja Iveković, Dalibor Martinis: ‘Indicators of the relationship between the income of an independent visual artist and his actual personal income as well as the personal income of a cultural worker’, page six from the magazine Prvi broj (First Issue), Zagreb, 1980.
  • View in gallery
    Scipion Naice Sisters Theatre (Eda Čufer, Miran Mohar, Dragan Živadinov) Retrogardistic Event Baptism under Triglav. Produced by Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, 1986.
  • View in gallery
    Scipion Naice Sisters Theatre (Eda Čufer, Miran Mohar, Dragan Živadinov) Retrogardistic Event Baptism under Triglav. Produced by Cankarjev dom Ljubljana, 1986.


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