ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Nandini Gooptu

Neoliberal Subjectivity, Enterprise Culture and New Workplaces: Organised Retail and Shopping Malls in India

With a case study of young workers in organised retail in shopping malls in Kolkata, this paper aims to illuminate how emerging labour processes as well as the organisation and culture of new workplaces in India today have far-reaching consequences beyond the economy and is transforming Indian society and politics in profound ways. With the adoption of market-driven and business-friendly public policy in India, new workplaces like shopping malls are playing a decisive part in crafting suitable workers and citizens, and in reshaping individual subjectivity, consonant with the needs of the market and of neoliberal governmentality for self-governing citizens and self-driven, pliant workers. The paper shows how young workers seek personal solutions to structurally or systemically generated problems in the economy and at the workplace; emphasise the responsibility, autonomy and agency of the self-driven, enterprising individual; disavow formal party politics and political engagement; negate the significance of the state in public policy; and allow both the government and employers to abdicate any responsibility for workers' and citizens' well-being.

Economic Liberalisation, Work and Democracy

Economic liberalisation has brought about significant changes in the experience and meanings of work, as well as in the social consciousness and political subjectivity of workers. This paper explores the transformation of ideas about the state, democracy and rights, and the impact on political action. A case study of declining jute industrial areas of Kolkata shows that the labouring poor interpret their experience of unemployment and "casualisation" not primarily as an economic phenomenon, but as a political crisis involving the betrayal of the working classes. This perception has led the poor to abandon political activism, to condemn democratic politics as unrepresentative, and to confine their engagement with institutional politics merely to extracting patronage benefits. Working class youth seek to exercise their agency within the urban locality in diverse ways, ranging from extortion and coercion to local community-oriented social work. Politics among this section of the poor is undergoing intense localisation, shunning the wider arena of democratic politics, thus spelling a crisis of political representation and participation.