The international market in clothes has undergone radical transformations with the removal of trade barriers, a process that has had highly varied and unexpected consequences for workers' livelihoods. Poorer countries, such as India and China, are often seen to be benefiting from these labour-intensive export industries, but little is known about the changing livelihoods of those employed in booming export industries or about impacts on the surrounding rural populations.
The research uses an interdisciplinary approach to critically examine changing livelihood strategies of both rural and urban populations affected by export industries. Field research by an anthropologist, geographer and two economists will be undertaken in and around Tirupur, a major garment manufacturing and export town in South India. The project will study linkages between urban industrial development and changing rural hinterlands, with specific reference to poverty and livelihoods, socio-economic mobility, and patterns of inequality. The research aims to:
- Enhance our understanding of impacts of industrial expansion on urban and rural households in developing countries;
- Improve our understanding of persistent poverty and 'poverty traps' in areas of rapid economic growth;
- Inform policy interventions by the state, multinational corporations and international NGOs that aim to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods.