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Title: Tamil warps and wefts : an anthropological study of urban weavers in South India.
Author: De Neve, Geert Raymond.
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 1999
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The thesis consists of two parts. The first part focuses on the nature and dynamics of labour relations in two neighbouring textile towns of Tamilnadu (South India), Bhavani and Kumarapalayam. In Bhavani, handloom carpets are still woven, while in Kumarapalayam handlooms have been replaced by power-loom production since the 1950s. An ethnography of the workplace is provided, and the different work regimes and work rhythms within these industries are described, as well as the structure of authority, and the workplace as a social environment where friendships are forged and conflicts rooted. Particular attention is paid to the marked contrast between the labour militancy of the handloom weavers in Bhavani and the lack of labour organisation among the power-loom workers of Kumarapalayam. The handloom weavers have been firmly organised in a Weavers' Union and developed a class consciousness based on a weavers' identity, which transcends solidarities of caste. In the power-loom industry, on the other hand, workers' resistance appears much more individualised and indirect. Here, labour relations are to a considerable extent shaped by the employers' practice of giving advances to the workers they employ. It forms a crucial part of their recruitment strategy, profoundly affects their relations with labour, and gives rise to new problems of labour control and discipline. In the second part of the thesis the study of the workplace and labour relations is related to an examination of the role of caste, kinship and 'community' in the formation of labour relations and the development of industries. The pioneering role of particular caste groups is investigated and it is indicated how various communities deployed their own strategies of development ('business cultures') to move ahead in a competitive environment. Attention is drawn to the interrelationship between the domestic sphere and the workplace. The effect of waged job opportunities on the formation of workers' households, women's duties in the household in relation to their opportunities in the labour market, and the impact of friendships and love in the workplace on marital stability are explored. Finally, a sociopolitical analysis of local temple organisation and the annual goddess festival seeks to understand how the entire town is integrated into a single 'community' and how boundaries of caste and class are transcended under the patronage of the local 'big men' or wealthy industrialists. Their role as patrons and benefactors of the local 'community' is directly related to their constant search to control and discipline labour within the industries.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Sociology Sociology Human services Labor Anthropology Folklore