Skip to main content

Resisting Early Marriage—Case Study from Tea Gardens of Assam


In this paper, we try to construct the dynamics of the lives of unmarried adolescent girls of families living in the tea gardens of Assam through the narratives of Kamala (All persons are anonymized). It describes the sociocultural profile of the “tea tribe” and the multiplicity of their struggles for existence. It also discusses the lives of adolescent girls and their ongoing norms of relationship, marriage and kinship including early marriage, elopement and confinement within the tea community. Tea tribes work mainly in the tea gardens of Assam, and they are part of the larger informal economy and unorganized sector of India. Assam is the biggest producer of tea in India and thus contributions of these people are enormous in the State economy. However, this community has been oppressed for centuries despite their substantial contribution to the State’s tea-growing economy. Being a girl from an underprivileged and so-called lower caste family doubles her vulnerability in society. As a daughter, the girl is expected to follow certain norms such as entering into early marriage, developing expertise in household chores and in tea plucking. However, due to regular intervention of State agencies, and exposure to the outer world, a few people from this community have started opting for better education and aspiring for a respectable life. In this paper, we discuss the historical background of the community as a whole and the process of the development of identity of a girl within this community who faces resistance in all spheres of life.


  • Tea tribes
  • Adolescent
  • Early marriage
  • Resistance
  • Affirmative action

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-10-3581-4_21
  • Chapter length: 13 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-10-3581-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)


  1. 1.

    Panchayats are local governance bodies at the village level governed by five persons selected by the villagers themselves.

  2. 2.

    A pattern of marriage in which the couple settles in the husband’s home or community.

  3. 3.

    A type of post-marital residence when a newly married couple resides separately from both the husband’s and wife’s natal households.

  4. 4.

    A residence in the ward or village of the groom’s patrilineal kinsmen.

  5. 5.

    Descent by the male line.

  6. 6.

    When a man comes to stay in the house of his father-in-law.

  7. 7.

    The first author.

  8. 8.

    Storage facility.

  9. 9.

    The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are official designations given to various groups of historically disadvantaged people in India. The terms are recognised in the Constitution of India. Interestingly, the tea tribes in Assam are STs in their respective original States but in Assam, they are categorised under the Scheduled Caste. There has been a demand from their community for a long time to recognise them as Scheduled Tribes of Assam as well.


  • ActionAid. (2015). Retrieved February 13, 2015 from doi:

  • Assam Government. (2014). Retrieved September 15, 2014 from doi:

  • Bhadra, M. (1997). Changing family, authority, role and status of the tea plantation women workers in Darjeeling district. In R. Bhadra & M. Bhadra (Eds.), Plantation labourers of North East India (pp. 229–246). Dibrugarh: N. L. Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bhargava, V. (2001). The adopted child in the family: Perceptions of the self. New Delhi: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bronfrenbenner, U. (1986). Ecology of the family as a context for human development: Research perspectives. Developmental Psychology, 22, 723–742.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bronfenbrenner, U., & Ceci, S. J. (1994). Nature and nurture reconceptualized in developmental perspectives: A bio-ecological model. Psychological Review, 101(4), 568–586.

    CrossRef  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bronfenbrenner, U. (Ed.). (2005). Making human beings human. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bronfenbrenner, U., & Moriss, P. A. (2006). The biological model of human development. In R. M. Lerner (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology (Vol. 1). Theoretical models of human development (6th ed., pp. 297–342). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chatterjee, S., & Das Gupta, R. (1981). Tea labour in Assam: Recruitment and government policy. Economic and Political Weekly 14, 44–46.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooley, C. (1902). Human nature and the social order. New York: Child Scribner’s Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Das Gupta, P. K. (1978). Tribal women in industrial context. Tribal women in India. Calcutta, India: Indian Anthropological Society.

    Google Scholar 

  • Digumarti, B. R., & Digumarti, P. L. (1998). Women challenges and advancement. International encyclopaedia of women (Vol. 3). New Delhi: Discovery Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaniampady, E. (2003). Women working in the tea plantations. New Delhi: Akansha Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kar, R. (1975). Unity in Diversity: A note on the process of adaptation. Bulletin Department of Anthropology, Dibrugarh University, 4, 11–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kar, R. (1997). Tea plantations and its labour in Assam: An overview. An unpublished paper presented in the seminar on Society and Development in the Tea gardens of the north east with special reference to Barak valley. Organised by Department of Sociology, Assam University, Silchar.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kar, R. (1981). Tea industry in Assam: A chronological account. Man and Life, 7, 131–150.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kar, R., & Barua, G. (1979). Tea labour: Preliminary appraisals of common identity in a multi ethnic community. A case study in Assam. Man in India, 59, 33–42.

    Google Scholar 

  • Majumdar, D., & Madan, T. (1956). An introduction to social anthropology. Bombay: Asia Publishing House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mead, G. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rusdia, M. (2015). Unicef India. Retrieved June 17, 2015 from

  • Saikia, D. (1978). Cha bagichar shramikar sanskriti. Tezpur: People’s Book Stall.

    Google Scholar 

  • Spencer, H. (1966). The principles of sociology. Osnabruck: Otto Zeller.

    Google Scholar 

  • Veeramani, R., & Ravi, T. (1999). Women in Indian society: Prospects and perceptions in women. In S. Rath & N. Rath (Eds.), Women in India: A search for identity (pp. 58–83). New Delhi: Anmol Publications Pvt. Ltd.

    Google Scholar 

  • Valsiner, J., & Sato, T. (2006). Historically structured sampling (HSS): How can psychology’s methodology become tuned into the reality of the historical nature of cultural psychology? In D. W. Jorgan Straub (Ed.), Pursuit of meaning. Advances in cultural and cross cultural psychology (pp. 215–251). New Brunswick (U.S.A) & London (U.K): Transaction Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dipjyoti Konwar .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2017 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Konwar, D., Bhargava, V., Sharma, B. (2017). Resisting Early Marriage—Case Study from Tea Gardens of Assam. In: Chaudhary, N., Hviid, P., Marsico, G., Villadsen, J. (eds) Resistance in Everyday Life. Springer, Singapore.

Download citation