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Papers

Bonded Labour

Bonded Labour, Agrarian Changes and Capitalism. Emerging Patterns in South India

Author : Isabelle Guérin | 2016
Published By: HAL

Drawing on a number of case studies from Tamil Nadu, this article shows that bonded labour is not a relic of the past, but surprisingly contemporary. Refuting the tenets of the semi-feudal thesis, we argue that unfree labour can go hand in hand with capitalism, and that it can be initiated and sustained by capital itself in order to accumulate surplus value. Going against the tenets of the de-proletarianization thesis, we suggest that bonded labour is not always the preferred working arrangement for capitalism. Bonded labour should be examined in connection to specific historical contexts, the changing nature of the economy, the evolution of political forces and modes of socialisation. I argue that bonded labour results from a specific regime of accumulation characterized by cheap labour, increased domestic demand sustained through household debt, as well as modes of conflict, contestation and worker identity formation that engage with both governmental programs and consumerism.

URL : 20170713025239.pdf

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