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Cultural capital and entrepreneurship in Nepal: The readymade garment industry as a case study.

Shakya, Mallika (2008) Cultural capital and entrepreneurship in Nepal: The readymade garment industry as a case study. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is an ethnographic account of the modem readymade garment industry in Nepal which is at the forefront of Nepal's modernisation and entry into the global trade system. This industry was established in Nepal in 1974 when the United States imposed country-specific quotas on more advanced countries and flourished with Nepal's embrace of economic liberalisation in the 1990s. Post 2000 however, it faced two severe crises; the looming 2004 expiration of the US quota regime which would end the preferential treatment of Nepalese garments in international trade; and the local Maoist insurgency imposed serious labour and supply chain hurdles to its operations. Such a common scenario saw different responses from the differing caste and ethnic groups operating within the garment industry. Bahun-Chhetris, the new business elites who had recently joined the industry aided by newly acquired finance, knowledge and skills, could only produce homogenous garments which would not survive the local and global crises. Marwaris and Buddhist Newars, the old business elites with differing political and cultural legacies, went on to produce specialised garments and successfully capture secure and profitable market niches. They achieved this either by using the material knowledge and networks accumulated over generations, or by invoking their cultural identities to legitimise their authority over the scmiotics used to distinguish their products. I examine Douglass North's theory on institutions and Pierre Bourdieu's theory on cultural capital to examine the relationship between formal and informal economic processes, and understand the way they transform throughout economic development. The habitus of transactional knowledge, structure and rules that prevailed in the conventional economy widened once it was exposed beyond its original boundaries. The new habitus has in turn drawn from the culture, history and politics of the old habitus as it set out to embrace new opportunities and threats. Such a transformation of the habitus has important distributional effects on the existing social structure and power balance between various communities within an economy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Economics, Commerce-Business, Asian Studies
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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