DSA2016: Politics in Development
Drawing from a number of recent and forthcoming contributions focusing Asia, Africa, and Latin America, this panel explores the political economy of the development process through the prism of capital-labour relations, and by placing labour and workers at the centre of the analysis.
This panel explores the political economy of the development process by focusing on capital-labour relations, and specifically by placing labour and work at the centre of the analysis. It does so by presenting a number of recent and forthcoming contributions to development studies, which take labour as their point of departure, and encompass a number of key sectors in the capitalist economy (agriculture, garments, construction and transport) in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The panel analyses the benefits of a labour-centred analysis as a prism - a method - for the study of development, and reflects on different ways in which this may enhance our understanding of power, inequality, poverty and vulnerability in developing contexts. The panel investigates the analytical and political costs of failing to pay attention to labour and workers in the study of development. The panel also reflects on labour as a progressive force for development, and highlights social struggles as an avenue for social change.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
'The sweatshop regime: garments, exploitation, and labouring bodies made in India'
Based on a recent book, this presentation depicts the Indian garment sweatshop as a 'regime' of exploitation and oppression crafted by multiple actors and crossing productive and reproductive realms. This labour-centred approach has implications for some key contemporary development debates.
Drawing from Marxian and feminist insights, this presentation, based on a recently completed book, theorizes the garment sweatshop in India as a complex 'regime' of exploitation and oppression, jointly crafted by global, regional and local actors, and working across productive and reproductive realms. The analysis shows the tight correspondence between the physical and social materiality of garment production in India; it illustrates the great social differentiation and complex patterns of labour unfreedom at work in the industry; and it depicts the sweatshop as a complex joint enterprise against the labouring body, which is systematically and inexorably depleted and consumed by garment work, even in the absence of major industrial disasters, like Rana Plaza. By placing labour at the very centre of the analysis of processes of development, the book critically engages with key debates on industrial modernity, modern slavery, and ethical consumerism.
Labour, State and Society in Rural India: A Class-Relational Approach.
This paper uses a ‘class-relational’ approach to analyse the processes of accumulation, exploitation and domination that explain the political and material conditions of one quarter of the world’s poor. It focuses on three related arenas of (informal) labour relations, the state and civil society.
Behind India's high recent growth rates lies a story of societal conflict that is scarcely talked about. Across its villages and production sites, state institutions and civil society organisations, the dominant 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 over a decade of fieldwork in rural South India, the book uses a 'class-relational' approach to analyse continuity and change in processes of accumulation, exploitation and domination. By focusing on the three interrelated arenas of labour relations, the state and civil society, it explores how improvements can be made in the conditions of labourers working 'at the margins' of global production networks, primarily as agricultural labourers and construction workers. Elements of social policy can improve the poor's material conditions and expand their political space where 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.
"Taken for a ride: Grounding neoliberalism, precarious labour and public transport in an African metropolis" (OUP, forthcoming)
Taken for a ride analyses the journey from nationalized public transport to its privatization and progressive deregulation in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It argues that understanding the outcomes of the reform and its politics requires putting its precarious workers at the centre of the analysis.
The growth of cities, and informal economies within them, are two central manifestations of globalization in the developing world. Their study is central to development studies. Taken for a ride contributes to our understanding of both, through an interdisciplinary study of public transport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, from 1970 to 2015. Drawing on careful fieldwork over an extended period, the book analyses the journey from nationalized public service to neoliberalism, privatization and progressive deregulation. Taken for a ride argues that understanding the outcomes of the reform of public transport in Dar es Salaam requires putting its informal and precarious workers at the centre of the analysis. The political attitude of these workers changed from political quiescence and the lack of an organisation representing their interests up until the mid1990s, to their political organisation, in the late 1990s. Taken for a ride analyses workers' strategy, and their partial achievements in claiming rights at work from employers in Dar es Salaam, as entry point to engage critically with the influential view that, due to widespread informalisation, trade unionism and workplace labourism are no longer a viable option for defending workers' interests. Taken for a ride advocates instead that reflections on the possibilities for action by precarious workers today requires attention to ongoing labour struggles, and a grounded understanding of the source of workers' power and vulnerability, their relationship to capital, and workers' place within their economic and political context.
Methodology for studying the well-being of poor people in Bangladesh
Our research in Bangladesh shows a dynamic, morphogenetic situation for survey and interview data on Subjective Well-Being. We theorise how the well-being survey data relate to interview data. We triangulate using time-use diary data. Women in villages suffer considerable threats to their self-respect.
Authors: Samantha Watson, Wendy Olsen, Daniel Neff, Simeen Mahmud, Maheen Sultan, Sohela Nazneen, Amaresh Dubey, Anup Mishra, and Santosh Kumar Singh.
Our research in Bangladesh shows a dynamic situation based on survey and interview data on Subjective Well-Being. We theorise the situation based on conflicting survey data and interview data. We triangulate and, as a result, we innovate at the level of theory.
First we expose the clear desirability bias in our survey data on “subjective well-being”. People generally report being relatively satisfied with their lives, but this belies a complex lifeworld.
Secondly, we theorise based on interview data about the ongoing reality of multidimensional well-being. Here the fishing area of southern Bangladesh offers much more active engagement in market- and expenditure-saving work for women than in the north of the country.
We test this hypothesis using time-use diary data. Methodologically we innovate by using a retroductive method of logic in our interpretations. We also rest these upon theorising a morphogenetic (change-causing) cycle.
This paper uses data from 2015/6 about rural labour markets in Bangladesh. We present results using both standard mixed methods and innovative methods. We have time-use diary data and 90 interviews translated into English from the original local languages, all focusing on women's work and how families decide on work timings. These data are brought into correspondence with survey data from the same set of 450 rural Bangladeshi Households.
These findings reflect an ESRC DFID research project on Gender Norms, Labour Supply and Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh and India.
These findings are based on an ESRC DFID research project on Gender Norms, Labour Supply and Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh and India.
The burgeoning service sector: a peril or panacea for Pakistan?
This paper focuses on the sustained growth of Pakistan's service sector and the pursuit of "decent jobs". The study aims at analyzing this phenomenon and the potential for sustained economic growth accompanied by decent jobs with such an unconventional structural pattern for a developing country.
Pakistan entered the wave of globalization by liberalizing its economy earlier than its neighbours, India and China. Ironically, both the neighbours have fared quite well economically with high rates of sustained growth but Pakistan lags behind. However, the success story of both the neighbours differ - China's growth has mainly been driven by its manufacturing sector whereas India has experienced a service sector led growth. Interestingly, Pakistan has a similar structural pattern to that of India where the contribution of the service sector to its GDP dominates. This raises concerns in context of employment generation as the manufacturing sector which is perceived to be creating "decent employment" is almost stagnant in Pakistan. Thus, the main question that emerges from development perspective is that whether this structural change is helping the general populace i.e. through an increase in employment opportunities. This paper aims to deepen our understanding by focusing on the following aspects. Firstly, the paper would analyze the determinants of service sector growth in Pakistan. Secondly, it would examine the increase in employment and productivity in the sector thereby, determining the trade-off (if any) between the two. Thirdly, it would attempt to assess the overall nature and trend of job creation in the economy by monitoring the four indicators suggested by ILO (labour productivity, employment-population ratio, working poverty and employment status) in light of the service sector growth. Conclusively, the study would provide insights on the sustainability of the aforementioned path to economic growth and job creation.
Empty Layers and Contested Zone: Workers politics in Indonesia's democratic transition
The paper discusses how the practice of democracy has created limited changes in workers politics, especially at the grass root level.
Workers in Indonesia have enjoyed a new democracy for more than 15 years since the fall of the Suharto's authoritarian regime that depoliticized the working class for decades. This new political climate has enabled the organized labour to set up agendas that incorporate broader political interest into union conventional agendas. In 2009 and 2014, many union leaders made some important political experiments by competing over local parliamentary seats. However, most of them ended with failures. The weak point refers to the disconnection of representation relations between the layers of workers particularly in the field of politics. Union representation at the shop floor was the lowest layer involved in movement politics, but they failed to establish a class-based politics at the rank and files. Intensive political discourse, ideological construction, strategic agendas only circulated among union leaders. The regular members stuck into everyday workplace problems lacking in political meaning and letting their consciousness remained depoliticized. While the rank and file was dealing with various corporate modern strategies that were seeking constantly to control workers, the upper layers of union became a contestation zone of various local power and even national elites. The conception of representation became vulnerable to the pitfalls of dilemma between political pragmatism and idealism of movement.
Improving labour conditions of female textile workers in South India - Lessons from Japanese historical experience
In south India, many spinning mills industry employs young female workers with unfair recruitment practices. Japan's textile industry, which had the same kind of problems, had to balance the improvement of working conditions and the improvement of labor productivity.
The development of the textile industry has continued as a major export industry in India. Focusing on spinning mills in India, the world's largest yarn exporter, the Southern state, Tamil Nadu, has some 1,600 spinning mills and employs around 400,000 workers. Sixty percent of these workers are female, coming from rural districts in search of employment. Those in search of work in a spinning mill go to the rural districts which have been gaining attention recently because of the discovery of its recruitment practices in the spinning mills. In a scheme that is popularly known as Sumangali Scheme, the garment industry of South India primarily employing young girls as its workforce.
Exactly same problem had happened in Japan at the first industrializing era, early 20th century. Japan's textile industry had to balance the improvement of working conditions and the improvement of labor productivity. Labor management, pressure from the government, the expansion of the labor union activities, although complex factors were involved Japanese textile industries experienced resulting in improvement of working conditions and contributed to the improvement of labor productivity. In cotton spinning mills, as the upstream of textile industries, it has underserved eye of global supply chain management. Japanese experience showed that the approach taken into consideration the impact of the development and basic education of women as the modern labour force is important to improve both working conditions and productivity of young women workers.
Informal labourers and Dignified Lives in Central India
How is the informal sector in India transforming the lives of poor in India?
The impact of the informal economy on rural households in India has challenged the notions of the role of the formal welfare state in the lives of the poor in India. With the informal sector e,playing almost 90% of Indian workers, the distinction of formal and informal sector has become problematic. The informal sector has become a very salient aspect of many poor in India who depend upon it for not only livelihoods, but also entitlements and benefits from their family members including subjective notions of wellbeing, dingity, and autonomy for themselves and their families. In this paper, I will discuss ethnographies of the Gond autonomy and self-sufficiency through labouring in central India due to increasing integration with the informal economy. The Gonds are predominantly a tribal population but also are dependent on farming. These communities are experiencing a threat to their traditional forms of forest dependent livelihoods and as a result, resort to the market to meet their needs without any state assistance. Various case studies will be discussed to show how instead of discussing formal and informal labour, what is more important is to know what matters to people and why. It will show how the formal sector is not only inaccessible to the Gonds as informal labourers but is also not reliable and present when it's needed the most unlike the informal sector which is always available and is preferred as ther are no ambiguities and delays in getting paid for work done.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.