This resource comes from the Journal of Development Studies, 2019
Vol. 55, No. 3, 401–419.
This paper brings labour back into the literature on legal empowerment against poverty. Employing a historical lens, I outline three waves of legal movements. Each wave is distinguished by its timing, the state-level target, and the actors involved. In all three waves, legal empowerment was won, not bestowed. Labour played a significant role, fighting in each subsequent wave for an expanded identity to address exclusions. Drawing from the Indian case, this paper’s findings highlight the evolving strategies of legal empowerment movements vis à vis uneven welfare states. They underline the significance of symbolic power of legal recognition, even in the absence of perfect implementation. Finally, they highlight contemporary workers as an overlooked, identity-based group that addresses the intersectionalities between class and ascriptive characteristics.
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