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Capitalism, Inequality and Labour in India

Capitalism, Inequality and Labour in India

  • Publication planned for: October 2019
  • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108482417

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  • Jan Breman takes dispossession as his central theme in this ambitious analysis of labour bondage in India's changing political economy from 1962 to 2017. When, in a remote past, tribal and low-caste communities were attached to landowning households, their lack of freedom was framed as subsistence-oriented dependency. Breman argues that with colonial rule came the intrusion of capitalism into India's agrarian economy, leading to a decline in the idea of patronage in the relationship between bonded labour and landowner. Instead, servitude was reshaped as indebtedness. As labour became transformed into a commodity, peasant workers were increasingly pushed out of agriculture and the village but remained adrift in the wider economy. This footloose workforce is subjected to exploitation when their labour power is required and is left in a state of exclusion when it is surplus to demand. The outcome is progressive inequality that is thoroughly capitalist in nature.

    • Rejects the idea that social development is linear
    • Challenges the trickle-down notion of progress
    • Suggests that capitalism is detrimental to the spread of welfare
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'From Jan Breman's lifetime of research with labour in Gujarat have come original concepts of patronage and exploitation, circular migration, footloose labour, neo-bondage, exclusion and expulsion from social rights and habitat - all now essential to our understanding of India's labour-force. In this tour-de-force, Breman synthesises the history of coercive debt, bondage and servitude, tracing its persistence from colonial roots to the present where tied and contingent labour underpins capitalism with Indian characteristics. Shabash.' Barbara Harriss-White, Emeritus Professor, University of Oxford

    'A masterful summing up of the six decades-long research of Jan Breman in and on India. The deep changes in the mode and manner of social exploitation and the failed promises of a sovereign state have been pursued by the author with a relentless critique of India's capitalist path while retaining a deep empathy for the labouring poor.' K. P. Kannan, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: October 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108482417
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
    • contains: 12 b/w illus.
    • availability: Not yet published - available from October 2019
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Labour as Codified in Annals of the State:
    1. The country liberated
    2. An end to servitude?
    Part II. Constrained in Decrepitude:
    3. The commodification of agricultural labour
    4. The class struggle launched and suppressed
    5. The Gandhian road to inclusion
    Part III. The Political Economy of Boundless Dispossession:
    6. The Agrarian Question posed as the social question
    7. Labour migration: going off and coming back
    8. Indebtedness as labour attachment
    Part IV. Conclusion:
    9. Capitalism, labour bondage and the social question.

  • Author

    Jan Breman, Universiteit van Amsterdam
    Jan Breman is Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, and Emeritus Professor at the Universiteit van Amsterdam. He is the author of many publications, including Footloose Labour: Working in India's Informal Economy (1996), for which he was awarded the Edgar Graham Book prize by School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

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