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“Getting on” and “getting by” underground: Gold miners’ informal working practice of making a plan (planisa)

Sizwe Timothy Phakathi (Chamber of Mines of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Journal of Organizational Ethnography

ISSN: 2046-6749

Article publication date: 23 August 2013




This paper aims to examine the interaction between formal and informal organisation of work inside the pit, with reference to the informal working or coping strategy of “making a plan” (planisa).


The research for this paper was ethnographic in nature and the participant observation was the main research technique used in the field.


The underground gold miners make a plan or engage in planisa to offset the production bottlenecks which affected their capacity to achieve their production targets and increase their bonus earnings. They “get on and get by” underground in order to cope with organisational constraints and management inefficiencies.


The paper highlights the limits of formal organisation of work and the significance of gold miners’ informal work strategy of making a plan (planisa) as an existing and alternative working practice that shapes their subjective orientation, agency and resilience to work structures and managerial strategies. Any strategy designed to improve the health, safety and productivity of underground miners must recognise, elaborate and systematically articulate the workplace culture of planisa as an existing work practice in the day‐to‐day running of the production process down the mine.



Timothy Phakathi, S. (2013), "“Getting on” and “getting by” underground: Gold miners’ informal working practice of making a plan (planisa)", Journal of Organizational Ethnography, Vol. 2 No. 2, pp. 126-149.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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