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Auctioning the dreams: Economy, community and philanthropy in a north Indian city.

Smedley, Roger Graham (1995) Auctioning the dreams: Economy, community and philanthropy in a north Indian city. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The debate on Indian entrepreneurship largely revolves around Weber's Protestant ethic thesis, its applicability to non-western countries and his comparative study of the subcontinent's religions. However, India historically possessed a long indigenous entrepreneurial tradition which was represented by a number of business communities. The major hypothesis of this dissertation is that the socio-cultural milieu and practices of certain traditional business communities generates entrepreneurial behaviour, and this behaviour is compatible with contemporary occidental capitalism. This involves an analysis of the role of entrepreneurship and business communities in the Indian economy; specifically, a Jain community in the lapidary industry of Jaipur: The nature of business networks - bargaining, partnerships, credit, trust and the collection of information - and the identity of the family with the business enterprise, concluding with a critique of dichotomous models of the economy. The lapidary industry of the city is closely identified with the Jain community, but the latter is subject to religious schisms which are cross-cut by caste divisions. An important tenet of Jainism is philanthropy which functions as a form of competitive gift-giving, social prestige, creditworthiness and the legitimizing of 'black money'. The Jain middle class patterns of consumption engender the creation and reproduction of social differentiation, particularly ostentatious weddings as supra-local vehicles for potential regional, national and international recognition. In conclusion, the Jain socio-cultural milieu and its commercial practices form an embedded economy. The religion/business nexus posits a conflation of prestigious religious and secular expenditure. Jain business skills lie in the minimising of economic uncertainties, but these are rationalizing mechanisms of an entrepreneurial process which is ultimately speculative and unpredictable. Entrepreneurial judgements are governed not only by objective information but also by subjective cultural beliefs, and certain cultural matrices appear to give greater encouragement to entrepreneurship than others.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anthropology, Cultural, Business Administration, Entrepreneurship
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2836

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