Jan Breman, Arvind Das, Brinda Datta, Ravi Agarwal
Down And Out. Labouring Under Global Capitalism
Oxford University Press / Amsterdam University Press
ISBN 90 5356 450 0
Order Down and Out with Amsterdam University Press
Poverty is the dominant feature of the working lives portrayed in this book. But the misery of these men, women, and children in India has little to do with the underdevelopment of the past. The poverty here is caused by development and is concentrated mainly in what is referred to as the informal sector of the economy, which is what four-fifths of India's population depends on for its livelihood. It concerns the type of work that requires little or no capital investment or education and is small-scale by nature. The wages earned from these enterprises are not only low but are also characterized by great fluctuations in the amount of work each day, month, or season. Two other factors characterize this type of work: the absence of governmental monitoring as well as the absence of organizations, namely unions, which traditionally represented the concerns of the working class.
The choice for India emerges from the research of Jan Breman, performed over a 30-year period in an area located on India's west coast, the site of enormous economic growth. He has now returned to this location with photographer Ravi Agarwal to present a portrait of the working classes of this particular area. Together with Arvind Das, a well-known journalist and commentator on business matters in India, Jan Breman has written the text that accompanies the photographs.
Jan Breman is emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Amsterdam and author of several books on Indian labour history.
Arvind N. Das (1948-2000) was a social scientist and journalist who did research on labour, both agricultural and industrial, as well other aspects of political economy.
Ravi Agarwal is an environmentalist and photographer whose camera has captured the lives of street workers and urban labourers.