A Relational Analysis
Amir Ali
Living Class In Urban India by Sara Dickey Permanent Black, Ranikhet, 2016, 262 pp., 795
March 2017, volume 41, No 3

This book needs to be appreciated as a culmination of a three ecade engagement with the city of Madurai and a select set of residents who became the author’s respondents and very close friends. These close acquaintances’ lives, their troubles, travails, joys and everyday struggles are tracked in a way that they become the central cast of characters in the book and the reader is often left wondering what happens to them next as the narrative of their lives unfold. The story of their lives is set in the backdrop of the larger national and indeed global changes that have been effected to unleash the forces of globalization, liberalization and the market. These forces make central the category of the ‘middle class’ in the lives of the protagonists and the author attempts to understand the category of class from the way in which it is lived, enacted and performed in the lives she traces.

The author’s engagement begins in 1985, right in the middle of the decade of the 1980s, that decade of incipient liberalization, when the license permit raj that shackled the giant beast that is the Indian economy was still there, but was being slowly and steadily dismantled.

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