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Kinship in the Factory: Garment Kormi Living a Life Away from Home

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Part of the Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference book series (ATSIAD)

Abstract

This chapter illuminates the role of relationality and religiosity in the garment factories from the perspectives of the capitalist owners, factory managers, and supervisors on the one hand and those of the workers on the other hand. It is argued that labor relations in the factories of Bangladesh are performed through a (corporate) ideology of relatedness and kinship, and these relations have effects on the workers’ total experience in the factory. Overall, this chapter reveals practices of power and authority in factories and how workers negotiate with, break away from the collective ethos, and create new space for social positions. The workers’ lives reflect a single but ever-changing frame of the social—alongside the production of material merchandise in the factories, is a continuous production of the social as well.

Keywords

  • Bangladesh
  • Garment kormi
  • Garment worker
  • Ideology
  • Kinship
  • Protest
  • Ready-made garment industry
  • Relationality
  • Religiosity
  • Resistance
  • Workers’ experience

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Deleuze and Guattari argued that biological bodies transform into social bodies in accordance with the requirements of the social existence. In the earlier stages, the primitive territorial socius organized people in terms of kinship, which they saw as systems of practices or strategies of alliance rather than structures (see Deleuze & Guattari, 2000 [1983]; see also Patton, 2000).

  2. 2.

    The despotic social machine, in contrast to the territorial machine, is characterized by instauration of a new system of alliance and a new form of filiation. The despotic machine substitutes hierarchical castes or classes for the lateral alliances of the territorial machine and introduces a new form of filiation, which connects the people through the despot directly to the deity (see Deleuze & Guattari, 2000 [1983]; see also Patton, 2000).

  3. 3.

    For a similar argument see Ashraf (2017). He describes how the production manager used the notion of halal (permissible according to Islamic law) and haram (opposite to halal, forbidden by Islamic law) to urge the workers to achieve optimal level of production. If workers do not give their full effort, their income would not be halal.

  4. 4.

    Dina Siddiqi (2000) argued, though the general preference for recruiting women in the factories initially emerged from their perceived docility and manageability, gradually the idea of productive worker was built on the characteristics of the ‘good’ woman who prioritized family responsibilities. As we have seen, the management always framed the factory as a family (see also Ashraf, 2017).

  5. 5.

    Henry Ford introduced the concept of the moving assembly line. The move from Taylorism to Fordism left the worker no choice as to the pace of work. Firstly, Taylorism belongs to the chain of development of management methods and the organization of labor, and not to the development of technology. Taylorism as a method of scientific management was an attempt to apply methods of science to the increasingly complex problems of the control of labor in rapidly growing capitalist enterprises. It deals with the fundamentals of organization of the labor process and of control over it. With a set of principles, it aims to secure control by way of a systematic approach to administration. Taylorism raised the concept of control to an entirely new level as an absolute necessity for adequate management of the dictation to the worker of the precise manner in which work is to be performed. Taylorism comprises of three principles: (1) gathering together of the traditional knowledge which in the past had been possessed by the workmen and then transforming the knowledge to rules, laws, and formulae; (2) removing all brain work from the shop and centering it in the planning or laying out department; and (3) specification of not only what is to be done, but how it is to be done, and the exact time allowed for doing it. Scientific management consists very largely in preparing for and carrying out these tasks (Braverman, 1998 [1974], p. 59ff).

    According to Braverman, the quickening rate of production in this case depended not only upon the change in the organization of labor, but upon the control which management, at a single stroke, attained over the pace of assembly, so that it could now double and triple the rate at which operations had to be performed and thus subject its workers to an extraordinary intensity of labor. He argued that craftsmanship gave way to a repeated detail operation, and wage rates were standardized at uniform levels (Braverman, 1998 [1974], p. 101ff).

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Hasan, M.T. (2022). Kinship in the Factory: Garment Kormi Living a Life Away from Home. In: Everyday Life of Ready-made Garment Kormi in Bangladesh. Approaches to Social Inequality and Difference. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-99902-5_5

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