Not available in 2015/16
AN421      Half Unit
The Anthropology of Industrialisation and Industrial Life

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Jonathan Parry A505


This course is available on the MPA in European Public and Economic Policy, MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MSc in Anthropology and Development, MSc in Anthropology and Development Management, MSc in China in Comparative Perspective, MSc in Law, Anthropology and Society, MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Social Anthropology. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course deals with anthropological perspectives on the industrialization process, on industrial life and industrial work, examined in relation to relevant theoretical debates and with reference to selected ethnographies. The themes touched on are likely to include the way in which local understandings of modern machine production are laid down on the template of pre-existing cultural assumptions and cosmological ideas; the rural-urban nexus linking neophyte proletarians with peasant villages; the extent to which traditional forms of social structure and inequality are reproduced in the modern factory; the modern factory as an ethnic 'melting-pot' and as an agent of the 'secularization' and 'disenchantment of the world'; shop-floor organization, cultural and organizational factors affecting the intensity of labour, and the extent to which factory production requires new concepts of time and new kinds of work discipline; the social organization of the industrial neighbourhood; gender relations in factory and neighbourhood; the extent to which industrial workers in 'the Third World' represent an 'aristocracy of labour', the contrast between workers in the organised sector and the unorganised sector, and the conditions under which the industrial workforce emerges as a class 'for itself'; trade-union activism; resistance to and collusion with management; local discourses about industrial pollution and environmental degradation.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 2 hours of seminars in the ST.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to prepare discussion material for presentation in the seminars.

Indicative reading.

Indicative reading

J Nash, We eat the Mines and the Mines eat us: Dependency and Exploitation in Bolivian Tin Mines (1979); A Ong, Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline: Factory Women in Malaysia (1987); D Wolf, Factory Daughters: Gender, Dependency and Rural Industrialization in Java (1992); S Westwood, All Day, every Day: Factory and Family in the Making of Women's Lives (1984); F Zonabend, The Nuclear Peninsula (1993); R Chandavarkar, The Origins of Industrial Capitalism in India: Business Strategies and the Working Classes in Bombay, 1900-40 (1994); M Holmstrom, South Indian Factory Workers: their Life and their World (1976); M Holmstrom, Industry and Inequality: towards a Social Anthropology of Indian Labour (1984); J Parry, J Bremen & K Kapadia (Eds), The Worlds of Indian industrial labour (1999).

Detailed reading lists are provided at the beginning of the course.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Key facts

Department: Anthropology

Total students 2014/15: Unavailable

Average class size 2014/15: Unavailable

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information