Economic inequality of the badli workers of Bangladesh: contested entitlements and a ‘perpetually temporary’ life-world

Fahreen Alamgir, George Cairns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses the experience of economic inequality of badli workers in the state-owned jute mills of the postcolonial state of Bangladesh, and how this inequality is constituted and perpetuated. Nominally appointed to fill posts during the temporary absence of permanent workers, the reality of badli workers’ employment is very different. They define themselves as ‘a different category of workers’, with limited economic entitlements. We undertake content analysis of the badli workers’ narratives to identify elements that they themselves consider constitute these economic entitlements. We consider their perceptions of discrimination and exclusion and explain how, in response to these feelings, they construct their survival strategy. From this, through the writings of Armatya Sen, we discuss the badli workers’ contextual experience and understanding of economic inequality in relation to extant theoretical understandings, seeking to contribute to the field and to empirical studies in the subaltern context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1153
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • badli workers
  • capability
  • economic inequality
  • equity
  • postcolonial
  • state-owned jute mills

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