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Global "Body Shopping"

Book Description

How can America's information technology (IT) industry predict serious labor shortages while at the same time laying off tens of thousands of employees annually? The answer is the industry's flexible labor management system--a flexibility widely regarded as the modus operandi of global capitalism today. Global "Body Shopping" explores how flexibility and uncertainty in the IT labor market are constructed and sustained through concrete human actions.

Drawing on in-depth field research in southern India and in Australia, and folding an ethnography into a political economy examination, Xiang Biao offers a richly detailed analysis of the India-based global labor management practice known as "body shopping." In this practice, a group of consultants--body shops--in different countries works together to recruit IT workers. Body shops then farm out workers to clients as project-based labor; and upon a project's completion they either place the workers with a different client or "bench" them to await the next placement. Thus, labor is managed globally to serve volatile capital movement.

Underpinning this practice are unequal socioeconomic relations on multiple levels. While wealth in the New Economy is created in an increasingly abstract manner, everyday realities--stock markets in New York, benched IT workers in Sydney, dowries in Hyderabad, and women and children in Indian villages--sustain this flexibility.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Contents
  5. List of Illustrations, Tables, Boxes
  6. Acronyms
  7. Prologue: A Stranger’s Adventure
  8. Acknowledgments
  9. Introduction
    1. Body Shopping: Brief Overview
    2. Ethnicization, Individualization, and Transnationalization
    3. Structure of the Book
  10. Chapter 1 The Global Niche for Body Shopping
    1. “Financial Democracy” and the Virtual Shortage of IT Labor
    2. War for IT Talent and Wall of Regulation
  11. Chapter 2 Producing “IT People” in Andhra
    1. “D-Shops” and “T-Shops”
    2. “Have Lands in Andhra, Have a House in Hyderabad, and Have a Job in America”
    3. Producing IT People as a Family Business
  12. Chapter 3 Selling “Bodies” and Selling Jobs
    1. Fee-Paying Workers and Body Shops in Hyderabad
    2. India as the Nexus of Global Body Shopping
  13. Chapter 4 Business of “Branded Labor” in Sydney
    1. “Marketing and Development Are Totally Different Stories”
    2. “Only Indians Can Handle Indians”
    3. Overlapping Businesses
    4. Same Roof, Different Hats
  14. Chapter 5 Agent Chains and Benching
    1. Differentiated Circles
    2. “Indians Are the Most Dangerous Ones!”
    3. Overbooking Seats on the Bench
  15. Chapter 6 Compliant Bodies?
    1. Interlocks between Body Shops and Community Associations
    2. Workers as Intermediaries
    3. Relations among Workers: Support Yes, Solidarity No
    4. The Way Out
  16. Chapter 7 The World System of Body Shopping
    1. The United States of America: “Mecca for IT People”
    2. Global Gateways: Singapore, Malaysia, and the Middle East
    3. U.S. Satellites: The Caribbean and Latin America
    4. New Frontiers: “Sind Sie Inder?” and “Is There a German Dream?”
  17. Ending Remarks The “Indian Triangle” in the Global IT Industry
  18. Appendix Essay The Remembered Fieldwork Sites: Impressions and Images
  19. Biographical Index of Informants
  20. Notes
  21. References
  22. Index