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Low Wage in High Tech

An Ethnography of Service Workers in Global India

Kiran Mirchandani, Sanjukta Mukherjee, and Shruti Tambe

Publication Date - 06 March 2019

ISBN: 9780190868864

224 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

An ethnography of low-wage service workers on the margins of the "new India" and its multinational technology firms


India's multinational call centers and software firms are housed in gleaming corporate towers within lavish economic zones; spaces that have become symbolic of new, sanitized, technology-driven development regimes. However, little is known about the workers who are responsible for the daily maintenance of these multinational corporate spaces.

Featuring rich ethnographic narratives combined with institutional and policy analyses, Low Wage in High Tech assesses the impact of the growth of multinational technology firms on low-wage service workers. It provides a unique look at the lives and livelihoods of housekeepers, drivers, and security guards who work in these firms. Despite working for wealthy global corporations that are distinctively associated with progress and promise, service employees often work extremely long hours, at low wages, with no health or pension benefits, and few prospects for social or economic mobility as a result. While they may have the hope of joining those included in India's economic miracle, these workers also experience social and economic barriers that continually threaten to perpetuate long-established cycles of poverty. In this sense, they are excluded from the "new India" that their places of work represent. Low Wage in High Tech presents these workers' stories of immobility and exclusion, giving them a long-overdue voice and representation in the research on India's technology boom.

Low Wage in High Tech is a volume in the series ISSUES OF GLOBALIZATION: CASE STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY ANTHROPOLOGY, which examines the experiences of individual communities in our contemporary world. Each volume offers a brief and engaging exploration of a particular issue arising from globalization and its cultural, political, and economic effects on certain peoples or groups.

About the Author(s)

Kiran Mirchandani is Professor in the Adult Education and Community Development Program at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Sanjukta Mukherjee is Associate Professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul University, USA.

Shruti Tambe is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the Centre for Advanced Studies, Savitribai Phule Pune University, India.


"Low Wage in High Tech hits on a topic that is absolutely cutting-edge. So much research has been done on call centers and IT labor, but few have addressed the much more far-reaching issue of the 'secondary' labor from this industry. The book uses an analytical framework that is nuanced and illuminating. Based on an elegant ethnographic analysis, it takes us inside these communities so that we can understand the experiences of these workers in their everyday lives."--Winifred Poster, Washington University in St. Louis

"In this carefully researched and well-written book, an impressive team of authors exposes the underside of India's IT sector. The authors have done an admirable job putting together a text that is detailed in its attention to the personal stories of those they interviewed, nuanced in its theoretical scope, and broad in its contributions to many areas of scholarship, including neoliberalism and service work, gender, caste, and occupation, and precarity in the global South."--Smitha Radhakrishnan, Wellesley College

"Low Wage in High Tech is a very interesting study of the liminal zones of globalization, where neither formality nor informality really describes the situation on the ground. It does a wonderful job of bringing in the idea of habitus, and relating it to large-scale economic processes. The book keeps gender front and center without reifying Indian gender ideologies."--Heather Levi, Temple University

Table of Contents

    Introduction: New Service Workers in the Global Economy
    Chapter 1: Hidden Informality in Multinational Technology Firms
    Chapter 2: Housekeepers: Creating Modern India from the Periphery
    Chapter 3: Model Entrepreneurs/Violent Offenders: Corporate Taxi Drivers at Crossroads
    Chapter 4: Risk Managers at Risk: Private Security Guards in India's Multinational Technology Firms
    Chapter 5: Engendering Service Work in Spaces of Production and Social Reproduction
    Chapter 6: Left Out: Service Workers in India's Multinational Technology Sector

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