Caste and Production Relations in India’s Informal Economy: A Gramscian Analysis

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&lquo;Basile, Elisabetta, (2013), Caste and Production Relations in India's Informal Economy: A Gramscian Analysis, World Economics Association (WEA) Conferences, No. 3 2013, Conference on the Inequalities in Asia, 27th May to 12th July 2013&rquo;

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Abstract

The paper explores the impact of caste on production relations in contemporary India. Caste is analysed by means of conceptual categories borrowed from Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. Partially overcoming the conventional Marxist view of caste as a ‘false consciousness’, caste is conceptualised as an institution and an ideology, which influences mental processes and social intercourse and, at the same time, defines widely accepted patterns of civil society organisation. The impact of caste on social production relations is empirically explored in the case of Arni, a rural market town in South India, which has experienced a major socio-economic transformation after the Green revolution. The analysis focuses on the forms of civil society’s organisation, which, as Gramsci shows, is an outcome of the interplay of particularistic interests.

After the introduction, Section 2 introduces Gramsci’s conceptualisation of hegemony in civil society. Section 3 relies on the evidence and argument provided by the literature on contemporary India with the aim of pointing out the two-fold role of caste as an institution and as an ideology. Section 4 summarises the results of a survey of Arni’s civil society, which explores the economic impact of social organisation. Section 5 comments on the role of caste in Arni’s civil society.


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