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" Sociology of Everyday life . Lifestyles , образ жизни , Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia.". Dr. Denis Gruber State University of St. Petersburg Faculty of Sociology DAAD-Lecturer for Sociology. Themenübersicht. meeting: 12.02.2009: Introduction

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"Sociology of Everyday life. Lifestyles, образ жизни, Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia."

Dr. Denis Gruber

State University of St. Petersburg

Faculty of Sociology

DAAD-Lecturer for Sociology

themen bersicht
  • meeting: 12.02.2009: Introduction
  • meeting: 19.02.2008: Concepts of Lebensführung, Lebensweise, lifestyle
  • meeting: 26.02.2009: Lifestyle, Everyday life and milieus
  • meeting: 05.03.2009: Lifestyle, everyday life and socialism
  • meeting: 12.03.2009: Lifestyle, everyday life and work in socialist period
  • meeting: 19.03.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Gender Aspects
themen bersicht1
  • meeting: 26.03.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: housing situation
  • meeting: 02.04.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Poverty, homelessness, „The search for security“
  • meeting: 16.04.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Religious communities and affiliation
  • meeting: 23.04.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Family structures and demographic trends
themen bersicht2
  • meeting: 30.04.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Deviance I - Prostitution, Pornography, AIDS,
  • meeting: 21.05.2009: Everyday life in contemporary Russia: Deviance II: physically disabled and mentally handicaped persons, consumption of drugs and alcohol

"Sociology of Everyday life. Lifestyles, образ жизни, Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia."

1. Meeting:

Concepts of Lebensführung, Lifestyles, Lifeworld

key questions
Key Questions
  • What does the notion of „everyday life“ mean?
  • What does „Lebensführung“ (lifestyle, modus vivendi, way of life) mean?
  • Which differences for lifestyle are obvious in comparision of the Soviet and the contemporary period?
concepts of lifestyle1
Concepts of Lifestyle
  • sociologically, two important functions:
  • classify or categorize the practitioner within a broader social matrix
  • offer practitioners a unique sense of self and identity
  • combine material and symbolic processes
  • practical ways of providing for basic needs and requirements such as food, clothing, and shelter
  • also aesthetic and symbolic expressions of one's sense of self and of one's membership among certain social groups.
  • lifestyles occur at the intersection of individual agency and social structure
  • has sustained as a key sociological concept, capable of bridging the divide between macro-level concerns
  • a bridge between large scale social structures and social groupings, and micro-level concerns with the subjective dimensions of agency, meaning, and identity
approaches of lifestyle in sociology
Approaches of Lifestyle in Sociology

research of Lebensführung is closely-linked with important sociological approaches like

  • Karl Marx  class concept and differentiation of work and reproduction
  • Max Weber  rational „way of life“ (Lebensführung)
  • Durkheim  differentiation theory
  • Simmel  cultural criticism about the individual
  • life style research with the focus on disparities in Lebensführung (Bolte, Kudera, Voß)
  • Sociology of leisure
  • Habermas  differentiation between system and Lebenswelt
  • Habitus theory  Bourdieu
lebensf hrung max weber
Lebensführung-Max Weber
  • traditionale Lebensführung: refers to routines and „valid“ norms of the everyday
  • strategische Lebensführung: can be seen as a kind of planning ones life to reach aims
  • situative Lebensführung: does not follow routines and rational or logical aspects, but is characterized by flexiblity
georg simmel
Georg Simmel

Simmel began with the elements of everyday life:

- playing games

  • keeping secrets
  • being a stranger
  • forming friendships
  • the quality of relationships
georg simmel social types
Georg Simmel: Social Types

The Stranger

“The stranger” in Simmel’s terminology, is not just a wanderer “who comes today and goes tomorrow,” having no specific structural position. On the contrary, he is a “person who comes today and stays tomorrow…He is fixed within a particular spatial group…but his position…is determined…by the fact that he does not belong to it from the beginning,” and that he may leave again.

The stranger is “an element of the group itself” while not being fully part of it. He therefore is assigned a role that no other members of the group can play. By virtue of his partial involvement in group affairs he can attain an objectivity that other members cannot reach…Moreover, being distant and near at the same time, the stranger will often be called upon as a confidant…In similar ways, the stranger may be a better judge between conflicting parties than full members of the group since he is not tied to either of the contenders…


Erving Goffman (1922-1982)

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life(1959)

  • Dramaturgical approach to understanding human behavior and interactions.
  • Impression management in everyday settings
  • How does the self form, act, and change in response to interactions with others?
concept allt gliche lebensf hrung everyday life
Concept „Alltägliche Lebensführung“ (Everyday life)
  • Following Weber’s investigations in “Lebensführung” the concept of “Alltägliche Lebensführung” was elaborated in the 1980s and 90s (Bolte, Voß and Kudera)
  • In this approach “Lebensführung” is understood as a balance of contradictory demands and claims which fulfils important functions for individuals as well as society and for the mediation of both spheres (cf. Voß 1995:37)
  • Lebensführung is a “bridge” between the individual and the society, it is a societal ordinal factor which encloses the creation of the everyday life (Bolte 2000:27)


concept allt gliche lebensf hrung everyday life1
Concept „Alltägliche Lebensführung“ (Everyday life)

key points of this approach refer to (cf. Weihrich 1998:6):

  • Lebensführung refers to an everyday connection of the practical life. It concerns with the question how a person organizes the everyday life.
  • Lebensführung is understood as an active achievement of construction of individuals who have to connect different activities, demands and expectations.
  • Lebensführung is not only determined by specific social structures but it also depends on specific historical circumstances
  • Lebensführung is a category between individual and societal structures

Concept „Alltägliche Lebensführung“ (Everyday life)

  • concept refers to a rising educational level, decline of the type of "normal family", changed life plans and life orientations, increasing differentiation of the employer-employee relationships, flexibility of working hours (cf. Kudera 2000:77 following)
  • Lifestyle is understood as a balance by contradictory demands and claims
  • Lifestyle becomes the individual and social ordinal factor, it encloses the order of the everyday life

Concept „Alltägliche Lebensführung“ (Everyday life)

  • Lifestyle expresses „how a person refers to the different societal spheres and arranges with these partial, spatially, contentually“ (Voß 1995:32)
  • Lifestyle means the „arrangement of the single arrangements of a person“ (Voß in 1995: 32)
  • These arrangements are changeable, they vary due to the interplay of different persons and depend on respective living conditions (cf. Kudera/Voß 2000:16)
  • but these arrangements can stabilize human lifestyle  they can be important for secure bases and methods, own rules, priorities and routines“ (Kudera/Voß 2000:17)

Following Kudera (1995) lifestyles can be classified as follows:

  • differentiation (easy-complex)
  • elasticity (open-closed, stiff-flexible)
  • stability (robust-fragile)
  • processing capacity of contradictions
  • regulation
  • available resources
summary the concept of everyday lifestyle
Summary: The Concept of „Everyday Lifestyle“

Weihrich (1998:6)

  • a) lifestyle refers to the everyday connection of the practical life. It is not the question what a person is doing, but how the everyday is organized!

b) lifestyle is an active construction achievement of the person who must bind different activities, demands and expectations to an arrangement

c) lifestyle is not only determined by societal structures, because its form and logic depends also on historical situation

d) lifestyle means a category between the individual (subject) and social structures.

sociology of everyday life lifestyles theoretical approaches and empirical findings in russia

"Sociology of Everyday life. Lifestyles, образ жизни, Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia."

2. Meeting:

Classes, Layers, Milieus, lifestyles, lifeworld, Habitus

key words for social structure analysis
Key words for social structure analysis
  • Group (subgroups)
  • Caste
  • Stand  Status
  • Class
  • Layer
  • Milieu
  • Lifestyles

social life situations

class theory marx 1818 1883
Class Theory: Marx (1818 – 1883)
  • social conflict was the core of historical process (cf. Coser 1977:43)
  • class is a social group which members are characterized by a similar position in the economic system and a common social position (Klassenlage, class position), common interests and common consciousness (Klassenbewusstsein, class consciousness)
  • “...the social relations people enter into by participating in economic life…” create an economic category/social phenomenon known as social class
  • Classes were formed to control the means of property possession
  • This would in turn result in class conflicts
social class max weber 1864 1920
Social Class: Max Weber (1864 – 1920)
  • dimensions of social inequality: class positions are interpreted as market and power positions
  • difference between property class and worker class (property as central differentiation marker for chances, e.g. qualification)
social layers
Social Layers
  • an order of social positions and prestige, which is responsible for the hierarchical occupational structure
  • social inequality can be measured for individual distribution of issues (property, knowledge, relations, occupation, etc.)
  • a person is able to change ist vertical social mobility, in this sense, a person can change ist belonging to a social layer
  • due to the change of social layer‘s belonging also life styles are changing
  • indicators:
    • occupational positions (occupational prestige),
    • income
    • education
    • in families: issues of household‘s planning

Social Layer of a modern „Mittelstandsgesellschaft“ (middle class society) in the second half of the 20. century

upper class

middle class

uper middle class

centred middle class

lower middle class

lower class

habitus and social class
Habitus and social class
  • For Bourdieu, class position is not based crudely on the possession or non-possession of the means of production as in Marxist materialistic conceptions of class
  • Bourdieu uses Weber’s approach that allows him to identify different types of social behaviour of social classes (layers)
  • Bourdieu argues that cultural forms (the habitus) are mainly determined by the socio-economic situation, by the distribution of economic and cultural capital
  • Bourdieu sees class as determined by largely economic factors, and as a set of practices, dispositions and feelings
the concept of habitus
The Concept of Habitus
  • is the link between the objective and the subjective components of class
  • Habitus refers to the everyday, the situations, actions, practices and choices which tend to go with a particular walk of life and an individual’s position in the social world (this includes, e.g. gender and race as well as class)
  • Habitus can be seen as including a set of dispositions, tendencies to do some things rather than others and to do them in particular ways rather than in other ways
  • Habitus does not determine our practices, but it does make it more likely that we will adopt certain practices rather than others
social milieu
Social Milieu
  • introduced in sociologyby Émile Durkheim whorefers to a socialenvironment, in which an individual isborn-in, grows-up and lives
  • Emerged in early ‘80s from ongoing research into lifeworlds (SINUS)
  • peoplewhoarelivingundersimilarconditions and share common values, same opinions, and follow common styles of interaction (cf. Hradil 2006)
  • groupsthataresharing common interests, similarvalueidentification, common practices of lifeplanning, similarrelations to otherpersons, similarmentalities and political, social, cluturalinterest
  • objectivesocialconditions d influence and limitate the way of thinking and interacting of thisgroup, but they do not coinit, therefore, memebrs of the same occupationalgroupcanbelong to different socialmilieus (cf. Hradil 1999)
  • 2006)
towards a theory of social milieus the new cultural sociology in germany
Towards a theory of Social Milieus: The new cultural sociology in Germany
  • main argument: life-styles do not have to spring from the economic situation (Gerhard Schulze, Reinhard Kreckel, Hans-Peter Müller, Stefan Hradil)
  • milieus rely on internal communication from which a common life-style emerges (Schulze)
  • milieus are not clear-cut social entities, but they overlap and form a plural and interrelated social universe (Rössel)
  • Milieus can thus be conceived of as networks with increased internal connectivity
  • Based on this connectivity, they develop a specific life-style that in turn makes internal ties more likely than ties to other milieus
  • Friendships form more easily between people with similar values, or around the foci of activity (bars, sports clubs etc.) in such life-style milieus
towards a theory of social milieus the new cultural sociology in germany1
Towards a theory of Social Milieus: The new cultural sociology in Germany
  • However, modern social structure is too plural and multi-faceted to be partitioned into milieus as clearcut entities
  • milieu concept is able to capture a tendential ordering of ties around common values and activities – but it does not lead to a neatly ordered topology of society
  • milieu is seen as the social environment of cultural patterns and people around us – it is not a bounded group.
  • The bases for such milieus can be manifold 

by age, gender, level of education, wealth, common activities, ethnic descent, race, locality, etc.

after germany s reunification introduction of new typologies for social milieu researches
After Germany‘s reunification: introduction of new typologies for social milieu researches

middle class-humanistic Milieu

traditional working and peasant milieu

GDR-rooted Milieu

political left-intellectual alternative Milieu

Status- and career-oriented Milieu

upward-oriented Milieu

non-traditional working class milieu

Hedonistic Milieu

Modern working class milieu

modern middle-class-milieu

traditional middle-class Milieu

core values of the sinus milieus

Higher conservative milieu

(Neo-)conservative values, the virtues of civic behaviour, sense of elite status

Petty bourgeois milieu

Traditional orientation, security, ready for self denial, duty, conventionalism, harmony

Traditional workers milieu

Simplicity, thrift, contentment, solidarity, conformity, sense of community

Traditionless workers milieu

Under privileged, compensation for disadvantage, ostentational display of social belonging

New workers milieu

Young mainstream, professionalism in job, leisure orientation, realistic hedonism

Aspirational milieu

Modern mainstream, flexibility, high readiness for achievement, career orientation, display of status

Technocratic-liberal milieu

Intellectual elite, post material values, self realisation, cultural interests, trend setting

Hedonistic milieu

Pleasure orientation, living in the here and now, hunger for experience, style protest, MacJob mentality

Postmodern milieu

Young/middle aged, independent professions, experimentation and dramatization life strategies, changing/plural values and cultures

Core values of the SINUS milieus
social milieus in west germany according to sinus 1998

Upper level

Upper middle level

Middle middle level

Lower middle level

Lower level

Traditional basic orientation


Materialist basic orientation








Have, be, enjoy

Social milieus in West Germany according to SINUS 1998

Social position


Liberal-intellectual 10%

Modern bourgeois 9%

Postmodern 7%

Petty bourgeois


Modern workers 8%



Hedonistic 13%

Traditional workers 4%

Traditionless workers 11%

Value orientation

social milieus in west germany according to sinus 19981

Upper level

Upper middle level

Middle middle level

Lower middle level

Lower level

Traditional basic orientation


Materialist basic orientation








Have, be, enjoy

Social milieus in West Germany according to SINUS 1998

Social position

Value orientation


Sinus Milieus - France

Quelle (Abb.):

sinus milieus germany
Sinus-Milieus Germany

Quelle (Abb.):


"Sociology of Everyday life. Lifestyles, образ жизни, Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia."

3. Meeting:

Lifestyles, Everyday Life, Socialism and Postsocialism

socialism s principles
Socialism’s principles
  • egalitarianism or equality  Capitalism exploits the very people who create society’s wealth.
  • Moralism  social justice and true liberty for all. 
karl marx s key ideas
Karl Marx’s key ideas

- economic systems go through historic cycles

  • over time, an economic system becomes rigid and cannot adjust to new technologies
  • a new system emerges, with new class relations and oppression
  • someday, a perfect classless society will emerge and there will be no further cycles
communist revolution
Communist Revolution
  • Revolution will eliminate private property
  • No longer will man have the means of exploiting another man.
  • Bourgeoisie will fight, so revolution will be violent.
  • A dictatorship of the proletariat will follow to weed out remaining capitalist elements.
the worker s utopia
The Worker’s Utopia
  • In the end, a classless society with no more oppression or internal contradictions.
  • People are able to live to their fullest potential  Consider the description in Marx’s Communist Manifesto in 1845:

“In communist society, …nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes,… to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner, … without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”

real existing socialism
Real-existing socialism
  • JÁNOS KORNAI (1980, 1988) investigated the shortage economy in Socialist societies
  • KORNAI sees the reasons of the chronical shortage of ressources of socialist economies caused by the institutional basic structure of the economic system
  • JÁNOS KORNAI defines an economy as a shortage economy if this shortage is manifested, obviously, intensively and chronical (not only spatial)
  • emphazises the „primate of politics“: political institutions are responsible for the emergence of economic institutions
  • but political and economic institutions together are stimulating the MOTIVATION STRUCTURES of a societal system and are influencing the capabilities of a national economy
  • intermingle of previous pre-socialist structures with socialist principles have caused obstacles for economic rise of socialist systems (exception: USSR in the 1920s and 1930s)
real existing socialism1
Real-existing socialism
  • the self-reproducing shortage in all spheres of economy causes the limited access to resources for actors
  • the political system (socialist ones with only one-party-system) is the core point and origin for all further developments
  • different attemps of perfektionism or reformism of the system can not be succesful as long as the position of the Communist Party is not critized
  • centralized political system of socialist societies emphasisez state property and the absence of private ownership
  • decentralized character of private ownership is not congruent with a totalitarian political system
  • elimination of capitalistical forms of property was not the result of a sudden economical development process  it was the result of the conception of the Communist Party: state ownership
the view of srubar 1991
The view of Srubar (1991)
  • According to Srubar, the ineffectiveness of the socialist economy combined with the Communist party power monopoly created a distinct mechanism of social integration of 'compensatory redistribution networks of goods and services‘
  • In a socialist shortage economy, the consumer's main worry generally was not how to get money to buy products
  • Instead, the main problems were first, how to find information about the availability of goods, and second, how to gain access to them
  • Both problems were solved with the help of one's social network
  • real nature of these redistribution networks have created an atmosphere of 'functional friendship' of mutual favours
lebensf hrung in socialism and post socialism
Lebensführung in Socialism and post-socialism
  • Transformation does not only mean that market-economy "institutions" are introduced ("institution transfer") but that the economic actors at all economic levels – also at the level of private households – are acting with market behavior
  • The everyday transformation of economic action is the basis of our concept of Lebensführung
  • In the prior phase of transformation close institutions got lost, and the adaptation to new institutions of the market economy and the new market action required time to tune own roles and activities in the everyday practice or to define totally new
  • Uncertainty, planning deficits, crises in the economic system of the national states are only some catchwords which can be stated for this period
discussing post communist pathways
Discussing Post-Communist Pathways
  • ‘transformation’ or “transition”
  • post-socialist development with ideal-typical text-book capitalism will be successfully?
  • Transitions are seen as processes which carry out in stages from political liberalization, via democratisation to consolidation and/or regression of democracies
  • Transitions are mostly restricted to the political sphere of transformations and refer to the period of transition from one type of political system to another
discussing post communist pathways1
Discussing Post-Communist Pathways
  • term ‚transformation’ is often used to describe developments in Middle and Eastern European States in relationship to intermingle and simultaneously processes of economic, political and social change
  • transformational research often refers to Talcott Parsons theory of modernization

 is based on the fact that after the collapse of state socialist systems, modernization theory has an advantage against Marxist approaches

modernization theory
Modernization Theory
  • a theory of development and constitution of western industrial nations
  • Stands as a synonym of modernity and progress
  • modernization is merely the adaptation of the paragon of the highly developed capitalistic industrial nations
  • central assumption: in the course of the process of modernization all societies develop a universal pattern of development, which maintains against regional and temporal countertendencies

paradigm assumes an unilinear process of development, but:

  • Have all Western nations taken the same way of development?
  • Have all post-socialist countries the same preconditions?
path dependency
Path dependency
  • Path dependency theorists (e.g. North) argue for policy strategies tailored to national pathways
  • tend to overestimate the actually attainable range of systemic diversity
  • underestimate the constraints imposed by Western regime goals and powerful global actors
  • concentrating on the past and origins
  • However, they open up a potential to consider the future of Eastern European capitalism as being different from the Western European one, due to unique historical experience.
  • main focus is on concrete, historical, and region-specific forms of emergent capitalism, distinct from the Western-European type of capitalism
path dependency1
Path dependency
  • national and regional developments take divergent paths
  • focus on how the development of an economic system is coined through different constrains and resources
  • socio-economic transformation debate concentrates on the informal structures and relations that have come up as a reaction to the rigid and inadequate conditions of communism and planned economy
  • Parallel structures emerged, referring to the first, legal and second, informal economy inside and outside the governmental sector
  • networks of actors inside and between state institutions, networks among economic and political actors

"Sociology of Everyday life. Lifestyles, образ жизни, Theoretical Approaches and Empirical Findings in Russia."

  • 4. Meeting:
  • Informal Sector and Informal Practices in Everyday Life
  • A View on India
informal sector definition
Informal Sector definition
  • term "informal sector" has been used to describe a wide spectrum of activities, which do not necessarily have much in common
  • tax evasion, corruption, money laundering, organised crime, bribery, subsistence farming, barter etc.
  • concept was introduced by the ILO (International Labor Office) in a study on Kenya in 1972
  • often the term is used to refer to economic activities that take place outside a given recognized and legal institutional framework
  • activities in the IS generate an income that is both not taxed and not controlled by the legal institutions which regulate the legal sphere
  • following Bernabè (2002) it refers to small either unregistered and unregulated activities, or activities concealed in order to avoid tax payment, or even activities producing goods and services forbidden by the law
describing the informal sector
Describing the Informal Sector

Differences to the Formal Sector

  • smaller scale of enterprises and production units (varying from individuals, single households to enterprises with a few employees)
  • lower complexity of the production process
  • use of high technology and expensive energy to a much lesser extent
  • less division of labour
  • lower capital-intensity
  • wages that are not based on the working time but on quantities (number of produced pieces)
  • high fluctuation of employees
  • production that is located in the housing/ living space or on the streets
  • high degree of Insecurity
describing the informal sector1
Describing the Informal Sector

ILO World Employment Programme Report puts the following characteristics:

  • ease to entry
  • reliance on indigenious ressources
  • family ownership of enterprises
  • small scale of operation
  • skills aquired outside the formal school system and unregulated and competetive markets.

but: following Kumar and Jena the above mentioned characteristics lack validity, because one has to focus on rural and urban as well as regional and international differences

the size of the informal sector
The Size of the Informal Sector
  • since 1950, the proportion of people working in the primary sector of developing countries has declined by 20 to 30 per cent
  • a large percentage of urban poor voluntarily migrated from the rural to the urban areas, in order to exploit actual or perceived economic opportunities
  • migration flows resulted in the growing urban informal sector, which is most visible in the growing and large-sale informal squatter settlements in urban centres
  • In many cities in India, the informal sector accounts for as much as 60 per cent of employment of the urban population
linkages between the formal and informal sector
Linkages between the Formal and Informal Sector
  • earlier studies show a clear distinction between the informal and the formal sector
  • recent studies emphasize that both sectors cannot be dealt with as two separate and independent spheres
  • Indeed there exists a number of linkages and interdependencies
  • Following Singh (1996) one can find „upward vertical linkages“ and “downward vertical linkages“
  • „Downward vertical linkages“ refer to the sale of goods and services from the formal to the informal sector
  • „upward vertical linkages“ stand for the other direction of transfer: the sale of goods and services from the informal to the formal sector
linkages between the formal and informal sector1
Linkages between the Formal and Informal Sector
  • example: “subcontracting“: requires cheap and flexible employees, i.e. workers who are not bound to stable working contracts and social insurances, it leads to price cuts of the informal produced goods and the low status of the respective employees (Singh 1996:50)
  • fact that many informal enterprises nevertheless work on a sub-contract-basis for the formal economy indicates that the informal sector is to a large extent dependent on ‘external’ orders

Research Project:

Living and Working in the Slums of Mumbai

Gruber, Denis et al. (2004): Living and Working in Slums of Mumbai,

University of Magdeburg, Institute for Sociology, Working Paper no.33

(under supervision by Prof. Dr. Heiko Schrader)


“Mumbai as one of the largest

Asian and world metropoles

has a population of almost

18 million people and between

one-third and one-half of them

live in slums.

The rapidity and massive volume

of this rural-to-urban migration

intensifies slum formation.”

what are slums
What are Slums?
  • term “slum” has many nuances and meanings
  • “slum” often refers to settlements lacking basic human needs and services
  • first appeared in the 1820s, the term ‘slum’ has been used to identify the poorest quality housing, and the most unsanitary conditions:
  • ‘vice’ and drug abuse
  • refuge for marginal activities including crime
  • a likely source for many epidemics that devastated urban areas
  • a place apart from all that was decent and wholesome
  • UN-expert-group defines slums as follows:

“A slum is an area that combines the characteristics, of a) inadequate access to safe water; b) inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure; c) poor structural quality of housing; d) overcrowding; and e) insecure residential status” (cf. UN-Habitat 2003)

what are slums1
What are Slums?
  • important living and working areas
  • cannot be seen isolated from the urban contexts as well as from both national and international policies and economies
  • are offering possibilities for million of people to find jobs
  • can produce commodities and social networks, which play an significant role in both the world economy and in survival strategies
  • people in slums are ‘vulnerable’ due to their socio-structural conditions and because they live in slums
  • lack of basic civil rights
  • informal character of slums which “results from an illegal, but very often tolerated, status of the squatters” (Schrader 2004)
slums and squatting
Slums and Squatting
  • Squatters in most cases have no legal and documented right to stay
  • Squatting can be understood as the appropriation of another person’s land for one’s own use without title or rights
  • about 6 million people in Mumbai live in very poor conditions and degraded forms of housing
  • they lack basic standards of livelihood, such as sanitary facilities, hygienic conditions, and medical care
  • especially things get even worse during monsoon times when people face destruction of their huts by water and mud
  • mostly there are no education facilities in the slums and people cannot afford to send their children to school farther away
  • With a population of about 800 000 people, Dharavi is supposed to be the largest slum in Asia
  • it was founded by the Koli fisher folk in the 19th century
  • it was located outside Bombay and integrated into the urban area not until 1872
  • after the first tannery was founded in 1887, many tanners began to settle
  • at the end of the 1890s, migrants from Tamil Nadu followed
  • The following decades mainly potters from Gujarat and Saurashta as well as people from the rural areas of Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh came to Dharavi in search for work

cf. Data Survey (YUVA 2001), Panwalker 1998:2640

leather production unit
Leather Production Unit
  • leather production unit of B. was founded about 15 years ago
  • It is representative for the various family-networks found in the informal sector
  • All people involved belong to the same Charmakar family (rank third in the state, among the other two major scheduled castes in Maharashtra)
  • due to cultural heritage the passing of knowledge from one family member to another, land a policy of monopolisation of the traditional caste occupation, leatherwork still seems to be attached to the caste
  • Another reason could simply be that leatherwork guarantees minimum subsistence in the absence of any other source of livelihood

Leather Production Unit

  • working process contains the processing of the raw material bought from the tanneries up to the final products like leather wallets, belts or hand bags
  • B. himself works at this place and
  • supervises
  • his employees are not paid per piece
  • but per working time
  • they hardly leave the working place
  • during working hours, which often
  • exceed 75 hours per week
  • there is a break of one and a half hour
  • at noon, and Sundays are off-days
  • people are sitting on chatais
  • (straw mats from Gujarat) on the floor
  • the room in the ground floor might
  • have 3 times 5 metres in size and has ventilation

Leather Production Unit

  • big dark looking dirty hall
  • five men are working in the hall each of
  • them separate
  • a big cutting machine is standing next to
  • the entrance
  • a room which is half closed on the left
  • side, with some dirty tables and chairs in
  • front of it, is used for storing the
  • chemicals
  • one can see canisters of chemicals for
  • bleaching and tanning the leather
jeans production unit
Jeans Production Unit
  • three men and four women, the youngest perhaps 16 or 17 yrs.
  • produce between 100 to 200 jeans per day
  • according to the Production manager H. there is a brotherly / sisterly relationship among the labourers, even although the workers belong to different castes and religions

- production process includes every step from the purchase of

the raw material from Mumbai markets to the final packed product

  • jeans production takes place in a room that is about 50 square metres in size
  • working time varies between eight and ten hours per day
  • working conditions (ventilation, light) are good
  • H. sales price for one jeans is 90 Rupees, whereas it is sold for 150 to 250 Rupees. in the Mumbai markets
settlement unit bharantinga nagar ekta kurla
Settlement Unit ’BharantingaNagarEkta’ (Kurla)
  • was founded about 15 years ago
  • like Dharavi, it is located close to a railway line and station, which guarantees access to transport and work in more distant places of Bombay
  • slum is surrounded by apartment blocks (so-called shawls) of the former workers’ class
  • outside the slum are huge heaps of rubbish and a ditch that replace a sewerage system
  • here only Muslims live; therefore, this slum reflects a very homogenous social composition
the sewing unit of s a
The sewing unit of S. A.
  • was founded 14 years ago by S. A.
  • In the main building work ten men in the age of 26 up to 40 years and three children in the age of 11 to 16 years
  • all labours are Muslims from Westbengal
  • they have no fixed contracts but are recruited every day anew  total dependence on the demand of the local market.
  • working time covers ten hours a day
  • salary is 100 Rs. a day
  • workers are using twelve sewing machines but beside this they do not employ any high technology
  • labours are sitting on chairs
  • Indian posters cover the walls
  • there is a radio and neon lights on the ceiling
  • In an adjoining room S. A. employs another six boys in the age from 15 to 16 years
  • Each day they have to work from 9 a.m. until 22 p.m. with a lunch break for a period of two hours
a glass engraving and embroidery workshop
A Glass Engraving and Embroidery Workshop
  • N. S. runs a glass engraving and embroidery workshop
  • 15 young boys, some of them below the age of fourteen, are working here under miserable conditions for 14 hours, seven days a week
  • a man supervises their work
  • they earn 30 Rupees a day, and the salary is paid every second week
  • boys are sitting on the bare floor
  • There are neon lights, two ventilators, a radio, and drinking water available
  • Adjacent to the working room there is a dark lunchroom without windows
  • despite one ventilator, it is stuffy
  • In Muslim communities, only boys work in such units, while girls are kept at home and sent to school
slum in kalina
Slum in Kalina
  • this slum was founded in 1910
  • five to six persons live in each of the 3,000 to 4,000 houses
  • main population consists of Dalits from the coastal regions of Maharashtra
  • there are no working units in the slum region and people have to find work outside the slum
  • people are often employed in the fields of house keeping, painting, construction, or catering via informal networking within the slum community
  • there is a striking sense of community in Kalina: If somebody gets sick, the others collect money to care for the family or they inform the relatives when somebody has died
  • social support within the community is also documented in that younger people pay 10 Rupees every month in a cashbox for communal acquisitions
  • regarding the educational possibilities, Kalina was the only place where school education was almost usual and more and more children even graduate due to the educational awareness of the Dalits
  • following Dr. Ambhedkar’s call for mass conversion in the 1950s many Dalit families converted from Hinduism to Buddhism and are thus called Neo-Buddhists.
interview with the oldest member of the slum community
Interview with the oldest Member of the Slum Community
  • 95 years old, B.G. settled at Kalina with his family in 1920
  • he came from the coastal region closed to Mumbai
  • His self-made house has no solid foundation and the roof
  • consists of corrugated iron what leads to a great heat inside
  • Fifteen years ago, there was no electricity in this poor area
  • meanwhile electricity has replaced kerosene
  • Water is available three hours in the morning
  • B. G. went to school in 1935 but he did not graduate
  • wonders why the students from the close Mumbai University never come to investigate their living conditions. Somehow aghast he states: “Nobody understands. Nobody is interested….”
interview with b g s sister
Interview with B.G.s Sister
  • 85-year woman
  • house has no stable foundation
  • possesses a proper roof and a separate washing

and cooking place

  • glass cabinet with a small collection of ‘western stuff’
  • tells that females mostly contribute to the family income

by working as maids (house cleaner) in other households, doing the laundry and preparing food

the slum matfalan
The slum Matfalan
  • about 25,000 migrants, mainly from Maharashtra, had settled in Matfalan more than twenty-five years ago close to the railway line to Pune
  • The reason was a large factory that offered work for migrants, and the migrant labours encroached land next to the enterprise where they worked and were tolerated by the authorities
  • in 1984 the company was closed down
  • In spite of lack of work the squatters remained on the land that was owned by the Maharashtra government, since their were no job opportunities in their home regions either

The slum Matfalan

  • in spite of their long staying they have not been acknowledged by the government as a legalised slum
  • municipality demolished their homes and even a school for the fourth time, the last time shortly before we came
  • almost everything takes place in open air: there are merely bamboo and plastic hut constructions where people find shelter
  • next water tap is about four kilometres away
  • indicator of poverty is also obvious that many people walk barefooted, while most slum-dwellers can afford shoes