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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26242

Title: Capitalist Transformation and the Evolution of Civil Society in a South Indian Fishery
Authors: Sundar, Aparna
Advisor: Barker, Jonathan
Department: Political Science
Keywords: social movements
civil society
Issue Date: 17-Feb-2011
Abstract: This thesis employs Karl Polanyi’s concept of the double-movement of capitalism to trace the trajectory of a social movement that arose in response to capitalist transformation in the fishery of Kanyakumari district, south India. Beginning in the 1980s, this counter-movement militantly asserted community control over marine resources, arguing that intensified production for new markets should be subordinated to the social imperatives of subsistence and equity. Two decades later, the ambition of “embedding” the market within the community had yielded instead to an adaptation to the market in the language of “professionalization,” self-help, and caste uplift. Polanyi is useful for identifying the constituency for a counter-movement against the market, but tells us little about the social or political complexities of constructing such a movement. To locate the reasons for the decline of the counter-movement in Kanyakumari, I turn therefore to an empirical observation of the civil society within which the counter-movement arose. In doing this, I argue against Partha Chatterjee’s influential view that civil society as a conceptual category does not apply to “popular politics in most of the world,” and is not useful for tracing non-European, post-colonial, and subaltern modernities. By contrast, my case shows the presence of civil society – as a sphere of autonomous and routinized association and publicity – among subaltern groups in rural India. I argue that it is precisely by locating the counter-movement of fishworkers within civil society that one can map the multiple negotiations that take place as subaltern classes are integrated into the market, and into liberal democracy, and explain the difficulties of extending and sustaining the counter-movement itself.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/26242
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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