Ethnographic study of textile factory workers in Alexandria, Egypt.
In Shop Floor Culture and Politics in Egypt, Samer S. Shehata provides us with a unique and detailed ethnographic portrait of life within two large textile factories in Alexandria, Egypt. Working for nearly a year as a "winding machine operator" provided Shehata with unprecedented access to workers at the point of production and the activities of the work hall. He argues that the social organization of production in the factories—including company rules and procedures, hierarchy, and relations of authority—and shop floor culture profoundly shape what it means to be a "worker" and how this identity is understood. Shehata reveals how economic relations inside the factory are simultaneously relations of significance and meaning, and how the production of wool and cotton textiles is, at the same time, the production of categories of identity, patterns of human interaction, and understandings of the self and others.
Samer S. Shehata is Assistant Professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University.