Blind Alleys and Red Herrings? Social Movements, the State, Class Alliances and Pro-Labouring Class Strategy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter reflects on strategies aimed at improving the material and political conditions of India’s labouring class. It does so through an analysis of two prominent Indian social movements that engages with debates about where the fundamental fault-lines of domination and collective action lie. In line with approaches that recognise class differences within the countryside as well as transnational aspects of exploitation, it argues that cross-class alliances are not in labour’s interests, and should be rejected in favour of organising ‘classes of labour’. This requires place and time-sensitive strategies, which may include engagement with the state when this can augment labour’s room for political manoeuvre. Undue acceleration of pro-labour strategies may trigger countermoves that leave it in a worst position, while undue hesitancy can unnecessarily restrict the scope of change and hold down the material conditions of millions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Movements and the State in India
Subtitle of host publicationDeepening Democracy?
EditorsKenneth Bo Nielsen, Alf G Nilsen
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781137591333
ISBN (Print)9781137591326, 9781349929733
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Publication series

NameRethinking International Development series

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