Globalization, the Financial Crisis and Petty Production in India's Socially Regulated Informal Economy

  • Barbara Harriss-White University of Oxford
Keywords: financial crisis, global value chains, informal economy, labour, petty production,


This essay explores theoretical and practical problems arising from the impact of liberalization/globalization and its latest crisis on India’s informal economy - heavily populated by petty commodity producers (PCP) and petty traders. Its theoretical focus is the distinction between PCP and ‘labour’ more generally because it is now common practice theoretically to elide the two kinds of work. Reviewing field material it focuses on two aspects of India’s informal economy – the persistence of small firms and their regulation by social institutions rather than by the state. These social institutions express identity as well as class. Its practical concerns are on the impact of globalization on PCP and labour in global value chains and the effects of the financial crisis on PCP in India’s informal economy.