Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Irene Pang ─ Precarity as a Legal Construction: Lessons from the Construction Sectors in Beijing and Delhi

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

The construction sector is a key driver of economic growth in both China and India, and the largest employer of internal migrant workers in both countries. Yet practices of subcontracting, endemic within the construction sector, introduces precarity to workers’ labor conditions, which makes it difficult for workers to exercise and demand protection of their citizenship rights, but not in ways often assumed. Based on a comparative ethnographic study of the construction sectors in Beijing and Delhi, and more specifically, through tracing citizen-state interactions in instances of rights contestation, I argue, in contrast to existing accounts which attribute precarity to the lack of state regulation, that the state plays a central role in formalizing and institutionalizing conditions of precarity through the law.

Irene Pang is a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology and the Graduate Program in Development at Brown University.

Development and Governance Seminar