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Crossing the Divide shows how strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the divide between the formal and informal economy

While work-related insecurities and worker vulnerability induced by neoliberal globalisation are undeniably affecting an increasing number of workers around the world, Crossing the Divide reveals that the history and legacy of colonialism is shaping the response of the Global South in ways that are quite different from that of the North.

Comparing precarious work in India, Ghana and South Africa, this book shows how innovative organisational strategies are emerging in the Global South to bridge the widening divide between the formal and informal economy.

Farm workers in Ghana, India and South Africa are challenging colonial-type work practices. Municipal workers in Johannesburg and Accra are organising collectively. In the cities of India, Ghana and South Africa, workers in domestic service, unregulated factories and home-based work face difficult conditions with little or no union representation.

Yet, these vulnerable workers are engaging in a range of creative strategies to fight for decent work and living conditions.

The studies in this collection are predominantly ethnographic, drawing on the experiences of vulnerable workers through in-depth interviews, observation and, in some cases, large-scale surveys.

Together they uncover the largely invisible world of the informal economy and vulnerable workers. Crossing the Divide makes clear that informal workers are not passive victims but are building new forms of collective solidarity to promote their rights and interests.

Edward Webster is Professor Emeritus in the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly publications, including Grounding Globalization: Labour in the Age of Insecurity (2008), written with Rob Lambert and Andries Bezuidenhout. The book won the American Sociological Association’s Labor and Labor Movements Section Distinguished Monograph Prize.

Akua Opokua Britwum is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana. Her publications cover gender-based violence, gender and economic participation, trade union democracy, and labour force organisation in the informal economy.

Sharit Bhowmik was Professor and Chairperson of the Centre for Labour Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai. He engaged in labour studies throughout his working life, with a particular interest in plantation labour and informal work. He was a member of the Subgroup on Plantation Labour of the National Advisory Committee in India and a member of the Expert Committee on Street Vendors in Mumbai.

Book details

  • Crossing the Divide: Precarious Work and the Future of Labour edited by Edward Webster, Akua O. Britwum, Sharit Bhowmik
    EAN: 9781869143534
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