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Labour tying arrangements: an enduring aspect of agrarian capitalism in India

Mohan, Taneesha Devi (2015) Labour tying arrangements: an enduring aspect of agrarian capitalism in India. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis explores the persistence of labour tying arrangements among female labourers in agriculture in India. This research is a comparative study of women’s labour tying in Aranthangi (Tamil Nadu) and Chinsurah (West Bengal). I argue that these labour arrangements are driven through familial/gendered relations, exercise of power at the village level, and macroeconomic and political forces. Set against the backdrop of rising feminisation of agricultural wage employment coupled with growing insecurity of work and survival, this study identifies that rural female labour (which is predominantly agrarian) is commoditized and under-valued. Consequently, the female labourer is often drawn into exploitative labour contracts. I identify rural labour in this thesis through Bernstein’s category of ‘classes of labour’ (1996; 2010). In this study, I identify the ways in which the classes of labour enter labour tying arrangements in agriculture. The presence of labour tying is often understood through the ideological divisions of Classical Marxist and Neo-classical analyses. Classical Marxist analysis understands these labour arrangements as remnants of pre-capitalist society, which withers away with commercialization of agriculture. Neo-classical theorists identify these labour arrangements as mutually beneficial relations for both the employer and labourer. Moving away from this binary understanding of the presence of tied labour, I use Hart’s analytical framework to show how the presence of tied labour among female ‘classes of labour’ are an outcome of multi-scalar power relations in rural society. I posit that these multi-scalar power relations in rural society create relations of dependency, obligation and privilege that draw female labourers into tied labour arrangements. I identify, these multi-scalar power relations as regimes of labour tying, where unfreedom experienced therein, are differentiated along gender, class and caste identities. The regime of labour tying, therefore, needs to be understood as a process that is here to stay, and of which female agrarian labour occupy an unfair share.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Taneesha Devi Mohan
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > Geography and Environment
Supervisor: Chari, Sharad
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/3317

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