At Work in the Informal Economy of India: A Perspective from the Bottom Up

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9780198090342: At Work in the Informal Economy of India: A Perspective from the Bottom Up
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Informal labour translates as labour or employment that is not regular. Labour in the informal sector is casual, insecure, and unprotected. This book brings to light the plight of the landless and land-poor peasants in the informal economy in India. While discussing the labour being pushed out of agricultural production, Jan Breman contextualizes why, when, and how this transition occurred. The book is a result of anthropological fieldwork conducted in Gujarat-the state with the highest rate of economic growth-spanning over four decades. Although centred on one Indian state, thereby lacking a comparative frame, the author argues that India is the epicentre of the informal economy. Thus, the informal sector here has a wider relevance and greater validity.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part covers the historical developments under capitalism, and contextualizes the deplorable condition of the unorganized workforce and the commodification of labour with the decline of agrarian bondage. The second part consists of author's ten previously published papers elaborating on themes and issues introduced in the first part of the book. This part also familiarizes the reader with the concept of informality and its ramifications.

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"Breman's book does not make for quick or easy reading, given its academic style. But it still provides an eye-opening perspective on a country where 1.2m young people--many with few skills, if any--are entering the labour market every month."--Financial Times


About the Author:

Jan Breman is Professor Emeritus and Fellow at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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