Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

By: Rina Agarwala (author)Hardback

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Since the 1980s, the world's governments have decreased state welfare and thus increased the number of unprotected 'informal' or 'precarious' workers. As a result, more and more workers do not receive secure wages or benefits from either employers or the state. This book offers a fresh and provocative look into the alternative social movements informal workers in India are launching. It also offers a unique analysis of the conditions under which these movements succeed or fail. Drawing from 300 interviews with informal workers, government officials and union leaders, Rina Agarwala argues that Indian informal workers are using their power as voters to demand welfare benefits from the state, rather than demanding traditional work benefits from employers. In addition, they are organizing at the neighborhood level, rather than the shop floor, and appealing to 'citizenship', rather than labor rights.

About Author

Rina Agarwala is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at The Johns Hopkins University. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Government from Cornell University, an MPP in Political and Economic Development from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University. Agarwala is the co-editor of Whatever Happened to Class? Reflections from South Asia (2008). She has published articles on informal work and gender in the International Labor Journal, Political Science, Research in the Sociology of Work, Theory and Society, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Critical Asian Studies, Social Forces and the Indian Journal of Labour Economics. She has worked on international development and gender issues at the United Nations Development Program in China, the Self-Employed Women's Association in India, and Women's World Banking in New York.


1. Introduction: informal workers' movements and the state; 2. Struggling with informality; 3. The success of competitive populism; 4. Communism's resistance to change; 5. Why accommodation leads to minimal gains; 6. Conclusion: dignifying discontent.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9781107025721
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 272
  • ID: 9781107025721
  • weight: 480
  • ISBN10: 1107025729

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