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A new map of Indian industrial society: The cartographer all at sea

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

What do liberalization, globalization, microelectronics and flexible labour markets mean for industrial workers and their families? We need home-made maps, which people use to understand their society, and observers' maps. Observers superimposed class on homemade caste maps. Now industrial employment is on everyone's map, including rural people. Until recently, everyone hoped to climb a mountain, with well-paid secure employment at the top. A job was property. Now the most valuable property is knowledge and contacts. There are two mountains, one offering security (especially in the public sector) at the top, the other greater rewards. Most people inhabit the lower slopes. Do workers see a trend towards polarization, into upwardly-mobile workers and those with little chance? If so, are they right? Where are the barriers to mobility (on their maps, and on ours)? Should we be more optimistic, or more pessimistic, than they are?

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