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Interlinked contracts and social power: Patronage and exploitation in India's waste recovery market
Published in
Volume: 43
Issue: 8
Pages: 1448 - 1474
Interlinked contracts have been examined almost exclusively in the context of the rural sphere. This article describes the nature of exchange regimes between two sets of primary collectors of recyclable waste, that is, waste pickers and itinerant buyers, and their dealers, in the city of Delhi. Far from the casualised labour transaction commonly described for the unorganised urban sector, the findings portray a picture of personalised and surprisingly long-term exchange between the parties. While a new institutional economics approach might explain the underlying motivation and consequent general form of the implicit contracts, it cannot explain the differential nature of each. It is suggested that in order to do that a political economy approach must be taken. This would understand interlinked transactions as being embedded within and consequently influenced by the particular social context, in this case of an inequitable and impermeable caste hierarchy amongst those that engage in waste work.
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