The Culture of Wages in Kochi, Kerala


Centre for the Study of Social Systems
School of Social Sciences

Weekly Seminar

Qualifying Quantities
The Culture of Wages in Kochi, Kerala

Speaker: Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma
(Researcher, French Institute of Pondicherry, Puducherry)

Date & Time: 25th April 2013 (Thursday), 3 p.m.
Venue: CSSS Committee Room, SSS-II

Abstract: Wages, even as the price of labour, in the classical political economy sense of the term, become tropes in the articulation of labour market relations and a representation of interests and claims by various groups. They reflect the material field within which each concrete form of labour takes place. An enquiry into the relationships that constitute this field in turn becomes an enquiry into wages. The object of this enquiry is not just the amount of wages or wage differentials. Rather, I am interested in the forms in which they are paid and the culture they give birth to. Wages have been traditionally looked at quantitatively, as comparable numerals, while their qualitative dimensions are overlooked. A culture of wages connotes the norms, expectations and practices associated with the determination of wages and their payment. It views 'wages' as a process and provides insights into the political economy of work and the geography of migration which undergirds it. Viewed from this perspective, wages have been under-theorised in contemporary social sciences apart from serving as aids in explaining exploitations and labour situations of various kinds. I argue in this paper that a critical look at the culture of wages is inseparable from an understanding of migration for manual labour or for that matter, any labour in contemporary India.

About the Speaker: Mythri is a researcher at the French Institute of Pondicherry, Puducherry, and Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum; Kerala. Her recent publications are ,"A Market Place for Migrants: Mobility, Settlement and Social Protection in Kerala" in Sabates-Wheeler, R. and Rayah Feldman, Migration and Social Protection: Vulnerability, Mobility and Access, Palgrave acmillan,2011; "Caste, Ethnicity and Migration: Linking Recruitment and Labour Process" in Irudaya Rajan (ed), Migration , Identity and Conflict: India Migration Report, Routledge India,2011,1134.html

Time and Place:

Date:   Thursday, Apr 25, 2013
Venue:   CSSS Committee Room, SSS-II
Address:   CSSS Committee Room, SSS-II
City/Twon:   New Delhi
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