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Everyday politics of class relations: Sub-contracting and Classes of labour in India’s building construction

March 21 @ 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm

By Manish Maskara (SOAS, University of London)

Online Webinar 

21 March, 4:15 – 6:00 pm UK time

Webinar recording available here: https://youtu.be/bCFiiMrtmkA

Labour migration, both international and internal, has shaped the organisation of exploitation in enabling historical and contemporary forms of capital accumulation. For instance, the cases of South African migrant workers in the mines, South Asian migrant workers in building construction in the Gulf, or the case of internal labour migration in countries like India, China, and Bangladesh indicate the significance of labour migration to the process of capital accumulation. However, a class analysis of labour migration is relatively less explored. The presentation focuses on examining class relations in the context of internal labour migration in India. This has implications for understanding the conditions that shape the emergence of class formation.

Migrant labourers in India work as ‘classes of labour’, i.e. both wage labourers and self-employed, in building construction, the garment industry, metal factories, paper factories and in the gig economy. Among different production sectors, India’s large-scale building construction industry heavily relies on labour migrants from different regions within India. While global building construction follows sub-contracting as a way of organising the production process, building site owners in India sub-contract different stages of construction work to intermediaries colloquially called thekedars. Following this, thekedars mobilise migrant labourers from the states of Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Rajasthan etc, for construction work. The research engages with the question: How does subcontracting in building construction via builders and thekedars shape class relations? By taking the case of the exploitation of labour migrants from the state of Bihar in India’s building construction, the study explains the everyday politics of class relations. The seminar draws from the presenter’s recently completed doctoral thesis on labour migration and class formation.

About the presenter

Manish Maskara has recently passed his PhD in Development Studies from SOAS, University of London. His doctoral thesis examines class formation in the context of labour migration in India’s building construction industry. His emerging research interests revolve around exploitation and labour migration, lived experience of exploitation and the associated politics of class relations. He has published a journal article on the employer-employee relation in the building construction industry and book chapters on the reproduction of precariousness of labour and the political experience of migrant labourers in India’s COVID-19 lockdown.

This webinar is part of the Spring 2024 Agrarian Change Seminar Series


March 21
4:15 pm - 6:00 pm


Journal of Agrarian Change