Behind India’s recent economic growth lies a story of societal conflict that is scarcely talked about. Across its villages and production sites, state institutions and civil society organisations, the better and less well-off sections of society are engaged in antagonistic relations that determine the material conditions of one quarter of the world’s ‘poor’. Increasingly mobile and often with several jobs in multiple locations, India’s ‘classes of labour’ are highly segmented but far from passive in the face of ongoing exploitation and domination.
Drawing on more than a decade of fieldwork in rural South India, this book uses a ‘class-relational’ approach to analyse continuity and change in processes of accumulation, exploitation and domination. It focuses on the three interrelated arenas of labour relations, the state and civil society to understand how improvements can be made in the conditions of labourers working ‘at the margins’ of global production networks, primarilyas agricultural labourers and construction workers.Elements of social policy can improve the poor’s material conditions and expand their political spacewhere such ends are actively pursued by labouring class organisations. More fundamental change, though, requires stronger organisation of the informal workers who make up the majority of India’s population.
Jonathan Pattenden is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Politics and International Development at the University of East Anglia, UK, and co-editor of Class Dynamics of Development (Routledge,
1 Introduction: poverty and the poor
2 A class-relational approach
3 Labour, state and civil society in rural India
4 Changing dynamics of exploitation in rural South India
5 Dynamics of domination in rural South India: class relations at the state–society interface
6 Social policy and class relations: the case of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme
7 The neoliberalisation of civil society: community-based organisations, contractor NGOs and class relations
8 Organisations of labouring class women
9 Conclusion: poverty and class
‘This outstanding book, based on more than a decade of richly textured research, illuminates the character of agrarian social relations in contemporary India and is a major contribution to understanding of the social implications of India’s pursuit of neoliberalism.’
- John Harriss, Professor of International Studies, Simon Fraser University
'This book is a valuable addition to the great tradition of studies of the political economy of change in rural India. It is very much up to the moment in its excellent contextualisation of contemporary change; its investigation of rural 'classes of labour' and what shapes their prospects, is innovative, theoretically sophisticated and empirically precise.'
- Henry Bernstein, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London