Caste, Social Capital and Precarity of Labour Market Intermediaries: The Case of Dalit Labour Contractors in India

Vivek Soundararajan, Garima Sharma, Hari Bapuji

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Research on precarity predominantly adopts a monolithic view of labour market intermediaries and ignores the differential distribution of precarity based on social group membership. This omission not only hinders a nuanced understanding of precarity but also prevents our ability to address inequalities. To address this, we examined the influence of caste on differential experiences of precarity among labour contractors (LCs) in the garment industry in Tamil Nadu, India. We find that unequal distribution of social capital along caste lines leads to Dalit LCs experiencing greater precarity than their upper caste counterparts, and being stuck in such precarity. Specifically, caste-based dynamics of social capital threaten the survival of Dalit LCs by distorting their economic wellbeing and destabilizing their leadership, and hindering their upward occupational mobility by confining their spatial mobility, limiting resourceful connections, and thwarting growth opportunities. Our study shines new light on how societal inequalities differentially distribute precarity among actors in the same occupation and underscores the intersectional nature of occupational precarity as well as the contextual nature of social capital.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Studies
Early online date4 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 May 2023

Bibliographical note

The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


  • caste
  • diversity
  • intermediaries
  • labour contractors
  • precarity
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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