(University of Delhi)
Paper Short Abstract:
Taking the case of paid domestic work in cities like New Delhi, this paper attempts to look at how the neoliberal upper middle class, while 'reinventing' their own structure in the capitalist backdrop, modify, restructure and yet also simultaneously reaffirm class hierarchies and inequalities.
Paper long abstract:
In developing nations like India, rural to urban labour migration is an important area of concern as it is extensively reflective of the ways in which changes in the urbane, class-specific demand reproduce and restructure social disparities and networks of marginalization. This paper attempts to explore the field of the unorganized labour sector in urban India, through the case of the live-in migrant domestic workers in metropolitan cities like New Delhi, India. Through the peculiar case of paid domestic work that makes for a large chunk of unorganized labour, while also simultaneously displaying an over-representation of women, the aim is to understand how this field is fundamentally 'new' in its organization because it marks a moment of crucial transformation of the older hierarchies built on inter-regional class and ethnic relations. The idea of the live-in domestic worker is further intriguing as this is a form of labour that exists in the space of an upper middle class family, thus connecting the labour market intimately to the changing realities of this class-specific, familial space. The ideas- firstly of the kind of labour within the limits of a home and secondly of the upper middle class urban household as the consumer for services of paid domestic work, make the upper middle class neoliberal family an arena for the reproduction of an emerging structure of control where the class based representations of power are mirrored in the conspicuous roles assigned to the employer family, the agents and the live-in domestic worker.
The new anthropology of class: relations of place, experience and (dis)possessions