Scrap Value: Power, Exchange and Enterprise in the Indian Metal Trade

Andrew’s current research project is an ethnographic study of the Indian scrap metal industry, which addresses key conceptual debates in the anthropology of class, exchange and competition. The research is grounded in the working lives, business practices and class politics of a firm of scrap metal traders in the Indian industrial city of Jamshedpur. Andrew’s project builds upon previous research in the town’s automotive industry, which considered how the recent decline of formal-sector employment security relates to criminality in labour politics and state institutions.

Andrew’s current research primarily addresses three topics in the anthropology of class and economy. First, the project expands upon the industrial class concept that informed his previous work, by considering how hierarchy, power and class politics function in smaller and less formally-structured workplaces. Second, the project asks how the industrial economy is structured by the exchange of commodities across regimes of value, and considers the processes by which industrial waste is commoditized. Third, the project investigates how employers perceive the principals of maximisation and competition, and the effect that their attitudes have upon the employment regimes which they construct.

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