Discourse Democracy and Labour Relations : A case study of social dialogue and the socio-economic situation of informal workers in Gujarat, India

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen

Abstract: This thesis firstly explores the process and effects of social dialogue in the context of informal home-based workers in Gujarat, India, and secondly the applicability of Dryzek’s theory of discourse democracy on this case study. In doing this, the study investigates the potential of social dialogue and discourse democracy to work as instruments for improving the social and economic situation of the workers. The case study consists of how the organisation and trade union Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) communicate with influential actors in order to improve the social and economic situation of the informal home-based workers. The material is gathered through interviews with four organisers at SEWA, and observations made when visiting three areas of home-based workers. The empirical results are presented in a chapter demonstrating the process of social dialogue and its effect on the workers situation in this particular context. The second part of the results is a discussion where the theoretical framework, consisting of Dryzek’s discourse democracy and the critique of Habermas’s deliberative democracy that structure his theory, and the empirical findings are scrutinised in relation to each other; by discussing traits of the theories in connection to the case study. The thesis concludes that there are similarities between social dialogue in this case and the theory of discourse democracy, but the theory cannot wholly be used to conceptualise social dialogue. It demonstrated the importance of the communicative decision-making to admit a wide variety of kinds of communication and to involve an active civil society with support in the constitutional framework for improving the social and economic situation of the workers. However, it also indicates that other practices than communicative ones are necessary in this struggle.  

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