This panel interrogates the class concept in historical and ethnographic analyses of India, and asks whether collective action and the formal/ informal sector divide are useful frames of analysis.
Current scholarship calls into question the conceptual opposition of stably employed Fordist working classes to the 'working poor'. These models posit that different types of working populations rely upon distinct forms of collective action: the work-based 'traditional unionism' of the formal sector, distinct from the 'community unionism' of the informal sector. This panel engages with the historically contingent emergence of working classes through collective action, and interrogates the spatial and political boundaries that are produced or contested by such struggles. Papers in this panel investigate these issues with reference to recent original ethnographic and/or historical research on South Asia.