A Sociological Study of Work, Mobility and Enterprise Among the Bengali Goldsmiths of India: A Multi-sited Ethnography
Liberalisation, economic restructuring and institutional reforms have led to the emergence of new forms of work and work cultures along with an emergent workforce. Developing countries like India during the 1990s introduced new economic reforms that opened up the economy to the forces of free market where the flow of goods, capital and labour were subjected to minimal governmental control. However, this led to an increased market competition, which in turn, influenced the labour relations and the traditional work/professions began to face changes. The case of goldsmiths migrating from Medinipur illustrates the process of transformation of labour. The intra-generational occupational mobility of the artisans tells us interesting stories of inter-relationship between work, mobility and enterprise. Drawing on a multi-sited ethnography of the informal gold jewellery manufacturing sector, the study highlights how the rapid social and economic changes have initiated the emergence of a new workforce. The mobility of the goldsmiths and their craftsmanship captures their entrepreneurial activity. Surveying the ‘artisanal guild’ across three states in India, we found that along with increasing demand for machine-made jewellery and entry of corporates, the state regulations on gold trade also posed several challenges for the artisan community. The paper focuses on the importance of multi-sited ethnography to understand how the changing market along with continuous regulations brought transformation in the traditional occupation and influenced the mobility of the artisans.
KeywordsGoldsmiths Mobility Multi-sited ethnography
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