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7Qs for Academics: Rosimina Ali


Today we speak to Rosimina Ali, a Researcher in Economics at the Institute for Social and Economic Studies, (IESE)

This is an ongoing series where we introduce some key researchers and academics getting to understand their work, their developing research interests as well as what keeps them engaged.

Explain the nature of your work and/or how it relates to inequality.

My research focuses on the political economy of labour markets, social reproduction and economic transformation within the context of capital accumulation with particular focus on Mozambique. This area involves an analysis of labour markets at three fundamental levels: (i) global trends and conditions, (ii) patterns and dynamics of both productive and reproductive work, in physical and digital spheres, and (iii) the inter-relations and intersections between and within the two dimensions. At each of these levels, types of work and employment, social conditions of work, public policies on labour markets, and interactions between different types, markets and dynamics of work – encompassing both paid and unpaid forms of work – are studied and characterized. The combination of the analysis of labour markets, patterns of investment, productive structures and social organisation of production and of work allows me to expand and deepen the analysis on the dynamics and trends of inequalities and socioeconomic transformation.

Of particular importance, under the socioeconomic structure of Mozambique, is an analysis of the diversity of forms of work (paid and unpaid) and its relationship with social reproduction of labour in the prevailing organisation of the productive structures and embedded social relations. This is fundamental because, as my research on labour markets shows, Mozambique’s economic structure – concentrated on primary commodities for export with minimum processing and weak linkages in the economy – has mostly failed to generate stable, regular and secure work, pay and social conditions. The heterogeneous workforce is semi-proletarianised, non-organised and with weak bargaining power. The current social system of accumulation depends on access to cheap labour, is reliant on workers and their families’ ability to engage in multiple interdependent paid and unpaid work, mostly precarious and unsecure, to sustain themselves. These inter-relations between production and reproduction must be understood and addressed otherwise the fragmentation of working and living conditions will intensify inequalities.

Why do you think inequality remains such an intractable social and economic problem?

Without structural socioeconomic transformation we may still reproduce the accumulation of capital together with rising poverty and inequality. Taking Mozambique socioeconomic structures as an example, it is fundamental to change the social relations and to redistribute the burden of the high social reproduction costs endured by the workers and their households. The failure to provide access to decent jobs and cheap basic goods and services including social protection, indispensable for the reproduction of life and labour, aggravates the informality, instability and precarity of work and the fragmentation of the livelihoods, intensifying inequalities and threatening the global reproduction of the society.

What continues to keep you engaged in your work or areas of research?

Underlying my ongoing interest in my work or research is the neglect or limited address in the mainstream view of the inter-relations between structures of work (paid and unpaid) and structures of (re)production, and its effects on well-being and social justice. Likewise, is the urgent need for socioeconomic transformation globally; the change of the prevailing productive structures and rooted social relations that perpetuate unstable patterns of work and livelihoods, and inequalities.

What is one thing your field is not focusing on that it should?

There is an interest to expand my work on the inter-relations within the global capital accumulation dynamics. Deepening the analysis of the social conditions of work within the global value chains is an example.

Who are some academics (in your field or otherwise) whose work you follow closely? Why?

Bridget O’Laughlin, Carlos Castel-Branco, Sara Stevano, Marc Wuyts, Jayati Ghosh, David Harvey, Ben Fine, Samir Amin, Christian Fuchs, Henry Bernstein, Mahmood Mamdani, Guy Standing, Deborah Johnston, Carlos Oya, John Sender and Chris Cramer are the academics whose work I follow much closely. The broad perspective and methodological lens characterizing the work of these academics helps in my comprehension of the reality, social totality and relations as a connected whole in an integrated social system; At the same time these lens fuel new roads of thinking and research, shedding light on possibilities of socioeconomic transformation. For instance, throughout my research in Mozambique, these lens allow the understanding of the heterogeneous and interconnected spheres and conditions of work in diversified and dynamic labour markets, marked by tensions and contradictions within global capitalist systems; which are neglected by the blind spots on the co-constitutive interrelations between production and reproduction in the mainstream view dominated by dualisms. It has been an immense honour to learn from these academics, directly or indirectly, throughout my research experience. I have been working closely on research around the ‘political economy of labour markets and socioeconomic transformation’ with the first three academics. Furthermore, I worked as a research assistant in the UK in a project on ‘fair trade, employment and poverty reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda’ with the last four academics.

What books are you currently reading?

Through my interest in deepening the analysis on the contradictions between social conditions of work (both paid and unpaid, productive and reproductive, in physical and digital spheres), generation and distribution of value and accumulation of capital I found myself rereading Christian Fuchs & Eran Fisher’s book Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age, David Harvey’s book Marx, Capital and the Madness of Economic Reason and Tithi Battacharya’s book on Social Reproduction Theory. Remapping Class, Recentering Oppression.

Complete the sentence: “The first thing I do each morning once I get up is ...

... contemplate the new day as an opportunity to (re)evaluate, (re)think and pursue my goals and the ‘new me’, through an ongoing learning process in a multidimensional sphere enabling me to (re)imagine options for multifaceted changes towards a more just world.

If you are interested in her work, please follow her at: @rosiminaly and contact her through: Follow IESE on Twitter here: @IESE1

This is an ongoing series of interviews with prominent academics and researchers.