Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

‘We are all sondukarar (relatives)!’: kinship and its morality in an urban industry of Tamilnadu, South India

  • GEERT DE NEVE (a1)

Abstract

This article is concerned with the role of kinship and kin morality in contexts of work in South Asia. It focuses on the highly ambivalent nature of kin morality when mobilised outside the household and the family. Ethnographic evidence from a small-scale industry in Tamilnadu, South India, shows how employers frequently invoke the morality of kinship and caste in an attempt to secure a reliable and compliant labour force and to avoid overt class confrontation. However, employers’ efforts to promote kinship—real or fictive—and its morality in the workplace appear inadequate in the face of high labour turnover and frequently collapsing employer-worker relationships in small-scale industries. While employers’ repeated use of kin ideology succeeds in silencing the workers on the shop floor, it is much less effective in securing a stable labour force in the long run. The argument put forward here points to the limits of kin morality and questions its effectiveness in informal contexts of labour employment. The discussion sheds new light on the role of caste and kinship in recruiting, retaining and disciplining labour in India's informal economy.

Copyright

References

Hide All
Bloch, Maurice. 1971. The Moral and the Tactical Meaning of Kinship Terms, in Man n.s. 6 (1):7987.
Bloch, Maurice. 1973. The Long and the Short Term: The Economic and Political Significance of the Morality of Kinship, in Goody, J. (ed.), The Character of Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Béteille, A. 1969. Ideas and Interests: Some conceptual problems in the study of social stratification in rural India. In International Social Science Journal 21 (2): 219–35.
Breman, Jan. 1993. Beyond Patronage and Exploitation. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Breman, Jan. 1994. Wage hunters and gatherers. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Breman, Jan. 1996. Footloose Labour: Working in India's informal economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Burawoy, M. 1988. Thirty years of making out. In Pahl, R. (ed.), On Work: Historical, comparative and theoretical approaches. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd.
Carsten, Janet. Introduction: Cultures of Relatedness. In Carsten, J. (ed.), Cultures of Relatedness: New approaches to the study of kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chandavarkar, Rajnarayan. 1994. The Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India: Business Strategies and the Working Classes in Bombay, 19001940. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Chari, S. 2000. The agrarian origins of the knitwear industrial cluster in Tiruppur, India. World Development 28 (3): 579–99.
De Neve, Geert. 1999a. Tamil Warps and Wefts: An anthropological study of urban weavers in South India. Ph.D. Thesis, University of London.
De Neve, Geert. 1999b. Asking for and giving baki: Neo-bondage, or the interplay of bondage and resistance in the Tamilnadu power-loom industry. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
De Neve, Geert. 2000. Patronage and ‘community’: the role of a Tamil ‘village’ festival in the integration of a town. The Journal of the Royal Anthropology Institute 6 (3): 501519.
De Neve, Geert. 2003. The workplace and the neighbourhood: locating masculinities in the south Indian textile industry. In Chopra, R., Osella, C. and Osella, F.. (eds.), South Asian Masculinities: Context of Change, Sites of Continuity. New Delhi: Kali for Women & Women Unlimited.
Engelshoven, Miranda. 1999. Diamonds and Patels: a report on the diamond industry of Surat. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Fernandes, Leela. 1997. Producing Workers: The Politics of Gender, Class and Culture in the Calcutta Jute Mills. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Gooptu, N. 2001. The Politics of the Urban Poor in Early Twentieth-century India. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Harriss-White, B. 2003. India Working: Essays on Society and Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Haynes, Douglas. 1999. Just like a family? Recalling the relations of production in the textile industries of Surat and Bhiwandi, 1940–1960. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Holmström, M. 1976. South Indian Factory Workers: Their life and their world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Just, Roger. 1991. The Limits of Kinship. In Loizos, P. and Papataxiarchis, E.. (eds.), Contested Identities: Gender and Kinship in Modern Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Kapadia, K. 1999. Gender ideologies and the formation of rural industrial classes in South India today. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Knorringa, P. 1999. Artisan labour in the Agra footwear industry: Continued informality and changing threats. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Lambert, Helen. 1996. Caste, Gender and Locality in Rural Rajasthan. In Fuller, C.J.. (ed.), Caste Today. Delhi: OUP.
Lambert, Helen. 2000. Sentiment and substance in North Indian forms of relatedness. In Carsten, J.. (ed.), Cultures of Relatedness: New Approaches to the Study of Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nair, Janaki. 1998. Miners and Millhands: Work, culture and politics in princely Mysore. New Delhi: AltaMira Press.
Parry, Jonathan P. 1999. Introduction. In Parry, Jonathan P., et al. (eds.), The Worlds of Indian Industrial Labour. New Delhi: Sage Publications.
Sen, Samita. 1999a. Women and Labour in Late Colonial India: The Bengal Jute Industry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sen, Samita. 1999b. Beyond the ‘Working Class’; women's role in Indian industrialisation. In South Asia 22: 2, pp. 95117.
Van Der Loop, Theo. 1996. Industrial Dynamics and Fragmented Labour Markets: Construction firms and labourers in India. New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed