The paper will deal with female workers in textile industry in the socialist and post-socialist Slovenia. It will, above all, focus on the shop-floor workers, on their social roles and work experiences in relation to their self-perception and identity. The paper seeks to explore economic activity in relation to social positions, valorisation of female textile workers and their work at the micro and the macro level (within a factory, a local community and in Slovenia). The paper will examine how working in a factory affected women’s socio-economic emancipation. The paper is based on a research study (2002–2019) of textile workers’ experiences in socialism and post-socialism, as well as the contemporary social political reconfigurations (interviews with retired and still employed workers in textile industry across Slovenia, fieldwork in a spinning factory, media and archive material analysis). With the focus on everyday practices, the paper aims to contribute to an understanding of social changes and transitions. By challenging the idea of a change as a clear-cut rupture based on the political/institutional change (World War II, socialism, post-socialism), the paper addresses macro and micro levels to reveal various ways in which people contest or contradict, follow and oppose institutional changes.


Nina Vodopivec graduated in 1999 at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University Ljubljana. In 2000, she worked at the Technical Museum of Slovenia where she was trained as a curator at the textile department. In 2001, she started with her postgraduate studies in Social Anthropology at ISH Institutum Studiorum HumanitatisGraduate School of the Humanities(Ljubljana, PhD in 2006). Her work was focused on gathering empirical material (ethnographies and interviews) on textile workers, exploring memory studies, anthropology of post-socialism and gender. Her book The Labyrinths of Post-socialism: social memory of textile workers (2007, ISH, Documenta) explored how social and political transformations in Slovenia in the 1990s, and people’s changed reference frames redefined textile workers’ perceptions of the socialist past and their understanding of post-socialist changes. Since 2006 she has been affiliated with the Institute of Contemporary History (Ljubljana), as a research professional in the programme Images of Economic and Social Modernization in Slovenia in the 19th and 20th century. Her research is focused on anthropology of work, industrial workers, anthropology of post-socialism, organization of labour, memory and gender studies, Central and Eastern Europe, and intercultural communication.