#Focus ICAS12 | Beyond caste? The use of social capital on the labour market in rural areas of Tamil Nadu
This paper aims to understand how interpersonal networks are shaped and shape the structure of the labour market in rural areas of Tamil Nadu in the context of a post-liberalization India and following COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis has starkly reinforced socio-economic inequalities after three decades of outstanding economic growth with mitigated impacts on poverty reduction. Rural areas face a decline in agricultural incomes and households compensate by the multiplication of sources of activities in order to ensure a living. While some households counterbalance this loss of income through intensive seasonal migration labor, other ones might know a form of relative upward mobility by taking advantages of the proximity of dynamic cities. This paper explores how interpersonal relationships are used on a labour market segmented by caste, gender, geography, economic sectors and forms of occupations. Beyond interpersonal relationships, this analysis puts forward the concept of social capital and its importance to get access to economic returns. The methodology is based on qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data have been collected through interviews before, during and after the first lockdown. Quantitative data consists of longitudinal data collected with three points in times since 2010; RUME (2010), NEEMSIS 1 (2016-2017) and NEEMSIS 2 (2020-2021). The last wave – NEEMSIS 2 – has been collected at the household and individual levels between the first and the second peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The NEEMSIS 2 survey includes modules covering employment, education, finance, agriculture, cognitive and non-cognitive skills, and so on. It also contains a set of questions opening a name generator to collect information on interpersonal relationships, and try to capture an overview of the social interactions in the villages. The study of these interpersonal relationships will be partially based on Social Network Analaysis including graphic representations and quantitative network-based indicators.
Cécile Mouchel is a PhD student in economic sociology from the “Université of Paris” under the supervision of Isabelle Guérin and Christophe J. Nordman. She started her PhD in November 2020. She is interested in the links between interpersonal relationships and job trajectories in rural areas of Tamil Nadu. She develops a mixed methodology based on qualitative and quantitative data to analyze the effects of social capital on the labour market in rural India.