IDS Bulletin Vol. 28 Nos. 3

Linking Home and Market:

Published on 1 July 1997

Summaries This article identifies changing labour market relations in West Bengal agriculture and argues that these cannot be fully explained without extending the analysis beyond paid work to the questions of who does what work and why inside labour?selling households. The pragmatic approach to employer?worker negotiation adopted by the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) at the local level is built on an implicit understanding of agricultural worker households’ unwaged work. While unwaged work may enable labour?sellers to negotiate higher wages, it also adds to employers’ capacity to contain wage rises. Moreover, ascribed ‘responsibility’ for unwaged work to certain individuals within a household means that those people are less able to enter contractual arrangements involving prior commitments. At the same time the withdrawal of women in status?aspiring groups from involvement in paid work contributes to the increasing incidence of seasonally tied labour arrangements. Thus, workers’ actions are both contingent on and constitutive of the wider structures in which they operate. Understanding the meaning of the closing wage gap between men and women in West Bengal, and the paradoxical continuity of a low proportion of women among agricultural workers requires analysis of how those structures, including ideologies of gender and caste as well as contractual arrangements (for both local and seasonal migrant workers) and the practices of political parties, change over time.

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Rogaly, B. (1997) Linking Home and Market: . IDS Bulletin 28(3): 63-72

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published by
Institute of Development Studies
Rogaly, Ben


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