The paper presents on the background of the postsocialist change, transformations of the state and marketisation the case of the villagers from a multiethnic village (Romanians, Hungarians and Roma) in Transylvania whose life and economic practices are characterized by a threefold tension. They experienced the economic disintegration of the local world (the village does not offer enough resources for making a living); the socialist, paternalistic state disappeared, but in recent years has become one of the major economic actors through its different subsidies (e.g. SAPS funds) and social aids; locals’ life is deeply influenced by market integration and disintegration. The villagers are part of and see themselves as part of a global context, while they are able to influence only their close surroundings being unable to exert effects on the national or global levels. They try to surmount these tensions by evoking moral views about fair conditions and happier life and by employing special economic practices. The decreased demand for their work and products, the devaluation of land, the ambiguous presence of the state, the increase in the importance of the market have thus two effects: the villagers have to reinvent repeatedly their economic practices and while trying to do this they formulate moral sentences to interpret successes and failures. The paper analyzes how the religious and ethnic communities, the networks of mutual help, political conditions and economic circumstances interplay in the formation of a popular wisdom (metis).

Keywords: state, market, power, resistance, self-defence, metis

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