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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Inflexible migrancy: new forms of migrant labour on the South African gold mines
Author:Crush, JonathanISNI
Periodical:Labour, Capital and Society
Geographic term:South Africa
labour migration
gold mining
Abstract:In the 1980s, South Africa's gold mining industry achieved a goal which had eluded it for almost a century: a regular, predictable, controlled flow of black labour oscillating between the mines and rural labour reserves. An unprecedented degree of stability now characterizes patterns of migrant behaviour at all levels of the job hierarchy. This new pattern is described in this paper as 'inflexible migrancy', as distinguished from the pre-1980s pattern (for mineworkers) of relative flexibility. The paper documents the new pattern of migrant behaviour and contrasts it with the earlier pattern. It begins with a brief overview of the major historical sources of instability in the migrant labour system, charts the attempts by the mining companies to control the migratory behaviour of black miners, and outlines worker responses to these efforts. Mining company strategies to regulate migrant behaviour date back to the earliest years of gold mining, became more diversified and sophisticated over time, but always met with mixed success. An explanation for the recent changes is sought, first, in altered labour market conditions which have severely curtailed the freedom of choice of most black workers and, second, in the changed geographical and social composition of the mine work force. Notes, ref., sum. in French.