T-Shirts and tumblers: caste, dependency and work under neo-liberalisation in South India

De Neve, Geert and Carswell, Grace M (2014) T-Shirts and tumblers: caste, dependency and work under neo-liberalisation in South India. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 48 (1). pp. 103-131. ISSN 0069-9667

[img] PDF
Restricted to SRO admin only

Download (409kB)


This article explores the variegated nature of processes of neoliberalisation and their diverse impacts on relations of caste and dependency in rural India. Focusing on the rural hinterland of Tiruppur, a major industrial cluster in Tamil Nadu, south India, the article examines the ways in which neoliberal regimes insert themselves in the region and combine, coexist or clash with existing institutional regimes of power. It documents the highly differentiated and unpredictable effects neoliberalisation has on the lives of villagers who have become directly or indirectly engulfed by its processes, paying particular attention to the uneven impacts on local landscapes of capitalist production and on rural relations of caste and dependency. The article examines rural transformations through the contrasting experiences of Dalits in two villages that became connected to the Tiruppur industry. While in one village, Dalits gained access to the urban industry, in the other, they remained disconnected from urban garment jobs due to persistent relations of debt bondage and unfree labour. It is argued that processes of industrial neoliberalisation do not lead to linear transformations in caste relations and social inequalities. Rather, the relevance and meaning of caste are transformed in uneven, and often even contrasting ways, depending on how particular localities are integrated into wider institutional regimes of power and rule. Processes of neoliberalisation unleash powerful encounters between old structures of power and new regimes of rule, and generate new configurations that defy prediction and expectation.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: In hard copy Feb 2014 ISSN 0069-9667 with online publication 2013.
Keywords: Neoliberalisation, industrialisation, caste, textile industry, Tamil Nadu, India.
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Depositing User: Geert DeNeve
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2012 09:35
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 21:01
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update