Globalization Lived Locally: Investigating Kerala's Local Labour Control Regimes


  • P. Neethi

    1. Doctoral scholar at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Trivandrum, India. Her research interests lie in labour geography, women workers and industrial relations, labour markets in Kerala, and issues surrounding informal labour markets. She has served as Fulbright Visiting Researcher at the University of Georgia, USA, and has various seminar presentations and publications to her credit, including in the journal Antipode. She can be contacted at e-mail:
    Search for more papers by this author

This article is based on my ongoing PhD research at the Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Trivandrum, India. Thanks are due to Dr J. Devika and Dr K.N. Harilal, Prof Andrew Herod and Anant Kamath. I am also grateful to the anonymous referees who provided valuable inputs. Of course, I am indebted to the workers and the families whom I had interviewed, as well as the management staff of the firm I visited during my fieldwork.


This article uses the case study of a prominent electronics manufacturer in Kerala, southern India, to illuminate an approach to labour studies which focuses on local labour control regimes. Kerala was chosen for this study because of certain unusual characteristics of its labour market. Building on the theoretical base of local labour control regimes, empirical evidence from the case study reveals that local labour markets develop their own forms of labour control and worker response patterns. These are not always clearly visible and may require something more than superficial enquiry to bring their salient features into view. In this case, the Church is shown to play an unexpected role in local labour control regimes.