Journal Name: Modern Asian Studies: Volume 42 - Issue 01 - January 2008
Print ISSN: 0026-749X Online ISSN: 1469-8099
The Labour Process in the Bombay Handloom Industry, 1880-1940 (pp1-45)
DOUGLAS E. HAYNES (Department of History, Dartmouth College, 6107 carson Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA)
Analyses of capital-labour relations in Indian industry during the colonial period have generally been confined to studies of large-scale units. This essay turns to an examination of the organization of the workplace among handloom producers in the Bombay Presidency during the period between 1880 and 1940. While recognizing the importance of contradictions between weaving families and various kinds of capitalists, the essay eschews any straightforward model of "proletarianization" to characterize this relationship. Weavers possessed methods of resistance, particularly "everyday" actions, which thwarted efforts to impose tight regimes of labour discipline within the workshop. Seeking to contain these resistances, shahukars (putting-out merchants) and karkhandars (owners of establishments using wage labour) developed complex social relationships with their workers based upon patronage, debt, and caste. Consequently, collective protest in the industry was limited, and when it did emerge in Sholapur during the later 1930s, it was highly conditioned and constrained by the multiple lines of affiliation weavers had with karkhandars.
The Paradox of Peasant Worker: Re-conceptualizing workers' politics in Bengal 1890-1939 (pp47-74)
SUBHO BASU (Department of History, Maxwell School, Syracuse University, United States)
This essay explores labor politics in Bengal in the period between 1890 and 1939. It investigates numerous supposed paradoxes in labor politics such as the coexistence of intense industrial action marked by workers' solidarity and communal rioting between Hindus and Muslims, labor militancy and weak formal trade union organization. In existing historiography, these paradoxes are explained through a catch all phrase 'peasant worker'-a concept that perceives Indian workers as not fully divorced from rural society and thus were susceptible to fragmentary pulls of natal ties that acted as a break on the emergence of class consciousness. In contradistinction to such historiography this paper argues that religion, language and region did not always act as a break on workers' ability to unite. It demonstrates that workers' politics was informed and influenced by notions of customary rights based on mutuality of shared interests at workplaces. When workers perceived that management violated such customary rights, they formed alliances among themselves and engaged in militant industrial action. In such circumstances, workers' natal ties assisted in producing solidarities. By drawing upon Chandavarkar's works, this essay accords importance to the contingency of politics in the making and unmaking of alliances among workers and thus argues that in different political circumstances religious or other forms of natal ties acquired different meanings to different groups of workers.
Gender and Class: Women in Indian Industry, 1890-1990 (pp75-116)
In India, investigations into patterns of industrialisation and the formation of industrial labour began during the colonial period, soon after the inception of modern industry in the mid-nineteenth century. After Independence in 1947, the development of a 'working class' became the primary focus of enquiry into conditions of industrial labour.
The Decline and Fall of the Jobber System in the Bombay Cotton Textile Industry, 1870-1955 (pp117-210)
In 1981, on the eve of the general strike that convulsed the Bombay cotton textile industry, millowners, managers and workers alike acknowledged that the jobber was a thing of the past. The jobber system, they agreed, had been dismantled decades previously.
'We are all sondukarar (relatives)!': kinship and its morality in an urban industry of Tamilnadu, South India (pp211-246)
GEERT DE NEVE (Department of Anthropology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton, U.K.)
This article is concerned with the role of kinship and kin morality in contexts of work in South Asia. It focuses on the highly ambivalent nature of kin morality when mobilised outside the household and the family. Ethnographic evidence from a small-scale industry in Tamilnadu, South India, shows how employers frequently invoke the morality of kinship and caste in an attempt to secure a reliable and compliant labour force and to avoid overt class confrontation. However, employers' efforts to promote kinship-real or fictive-and its morality in the workplace appear inadequate in the face of high labour turnover and frequently collapsing employer-worker relationships in small-scale industries. While employers' repeated use of kin ideology succeeds in silencing the workers on the shop floor, it is much less effective in securing a stable labour force in the long run. The argument put forward here points to the limits of kin morality and questions its effectiveness in informal contexts of labour employment. The discussion sheds new light on the role of caste and kinship in recruiting, retaining and disciplining labour in India's informal economy.
Modern Asian Studies (2008)
Copyright ©2007 Cambridge University Press
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