Class explains much in the differentiation of life chances and political dynamics in South Asia; scholarship from the region contributed much to class analysis. Yet class has lost its previous centrality as a way of understanding the world and how it changes. This outcome is puzzling; new configurations of global economic forces and policy have widened gaps between classes and across sectors and regions, altered people’s relations to production, and produced new state-citizen relations. Does market triumphalism or increased salience of identity politics render class irrelevant? Has rapid growth in aggregate wealth obviated long-standing questions of inequality and poverty? Explanations for what happened to class vary, from intellectual fads to global transformations of interests. The authors ask what is lost in the move away from class, and what South Asian experiences tell us about the limits of class analysis. Empirical chapters examine formal and informal-sector labor, social movements against genetic engineering, and politics of the "new middle class." A unifying analytical concern is specifying conditions under which interests of those disadvantaged by class systems are immobilized, diffused, coopted -- or autonomously recognized and acted upon politically: the problematic transition of classes in themselves to classes for themselves.
1. Introduction — Restoring Agency to Class: Puzzles from South Asia Ronald J. Herring and Rina Agarwala 2. On the Decline of Class Analysis in South Asian Studies Vivek Chibber 3. Was the Indian Labor Movement Ever Co-opted? Evaluating Standard Accounts Emmanuel Teitelbaum 4. From Work to Welfare: A New Class Movement in India Rina Agarwala 5. Middle-Class Activism and the Politics of the Informal Working Class: A Perspective on Class Relations and Civil Society in Indian Cities John Harriss 6. Why Did "Operation Cremate Monsanto" Fail? Science and Class in India’s Great Terminator-Technology Hoax Ronald J. Herring 7. Hegemonic Aspirations: New Middle Class Politics and India’s Democracy in Comparative Perspective Leela Fernandes and Patrick Heller 8. Workers’ Organizations in Pakistan: Why No Role in Formal Politics? Christopher Candland