Middle India and Urban-Rural Development

Four Decades of Change

  • Barbara Harriss-White

Part of the Exploring Urban Change in South Asia book series (EUCS)

About this book


Middle India and Rural-Urban Development explores the socio-economic conditions of an ‘India’ that falls between the cracks of macro-economic analysis, sectoral research and micro-level ethnography. Its focus, the ‘middle India’ of small towns, is relatively unknown in scholarly terms for good reason: it requires sustained and difficult field research. But it is where most Indians either live or constantly visit in order to buy and sell, arrange marriages and plot politics. Anyone who wants to understand India therefore needs to understand non-metropolitan, provincial, small-town India and its economic life. This book meets this need. From 1973 to the present, Barbara Harriss-White has watched India’s development through the lens of an ordinary  town in northern Tamil Nadu, Arni. This book provides a pluralist, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspective on Arni and its rural hinterland. It grounds general economic processes  in the social specificities of a given place and region. In the process, continuity is juxtaposed with abrupt change. A strong feature of the book is its analysis of how government policies that fail to take into account the realities of small town life in India have unintended and often perverse consequences.

In this unique book, Harriss-White brings together ten essays written by herself and her research team on Arni and its surrounding rural areas. They track the changing nature of local business and the workforce; their urban-rural relations, their regulation through civil society organizations and social practices, their relations to the state and to India’s accelerating and dynamic growth. That most people live outside the metropolises holds for many other developing countries and makes this book, and the ideas and methods that frame it, highly relevant to a global development audience.


Caste and the weaving industry in India Caste discrimination and rural-urban migration Caste, gender and religion in urban India Decentralisation of Indian governance Growth and livelihoods in southern India Impact of caste on production relations Informal economy and consumption Informal economy of India Liberalization, mechanization and conflict in India Local-global diversification in Arni Rural consumption choices in India Rural development in Tamil Nadu Rural entrepreneurship and social relations in India Rural-urban development Small towns in India Social policy implications of development in Tamil Nadu Socialization for wage work

Editors and affiliations

  • Barbara Harriss-White
    • 1
  1. 1.Wolfson CollegeOxford UniversityOxfordUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature India Private Limited 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, New Delhi
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-81-322-2430-3
  • Online ISBN 978-81-322-2431-0
  • Series Print ISSN 2367-0045
  • Series Online ISSN 2367-0053
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