Thinking through the Stones

Mohammad Talib

in Writing Labour

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780198067719
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080083 | DOI:
Thinking through the Stones

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Stone quarrying played a central role in the social and symbolic world of the stone quarry workers in Delhi. The symbolic universe of the workers was invariably comprised of the workers' perception of themselves, their conditions at work and perceptions of the future, and the larger social reality. Workers employed at the stone quarry usually had prior experience that enabled them to adjust to the work and living conditions. This chapter is based on interviews with the stone quarry workers from Delhi during the years 1984-1987. In these interviews, the stone quarry workers talked about their experiences of labour and wages. The chapter examines workers' tendency to perceive conditions of social plight as natural immutabilities which they cannot control and had to endure. It analyzes the workers' self-image, perceptions of poverty and inequality as well as physical suffering, consumption and subsistence, and attitudes towards authority and informal patrons (family/caste elders).

Keywords: stone quarrying; attitudes to work/towards authority; living conditions; poverty; labour; wages; self-image of workers; physical suffering

Chapter.  16636 words. 

Subjects: Occupations, Professions, and Work

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