There has been increasing scholarly attention directed to the systemic exploitation and everyday plight of workers in the nonformal sectors of the economy. This is especially pressing for workers in the globalized South, where the transition from agrarian to urban-industrial neoliberal economies over the last two decades rapidly accelerated conditions of alienation, insecurity, and fragmentation of peer solidarity. In the case of India, the market liberalization reform of the 1990s was a historical watershed. Reforms that promoted liberalization, export, and labor market reregulation led to the mushrooming of the informal sector while informalizing the formal. For labor, these policies meant fewer employer responsibilities toward worker welfare; legal elasticity regarding labor compensation; and most importantly, the gradual erosion of collective mobilization— either through formal unions or group action—against managerial oversight. Indeed, the conception and identity of a homogenized laboring “class” in the...

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