Labor, sharecropping and loans are complementary aspects in household economic strategy and together contribute to household’s class position. They also indicate multi-stranded links between two particular households in a patron-client pair. Sharecropping is the main way for poorer households to gain access to land. In Bangladesh, in the standard form of sharecropping, the cultivator bears all the costs and gives one half of the crop to the landowner as rent. The wealthiest households, share out land to cut cash outlays, bestow patronage and to minimize investment of household labor, particularly as educated sons are less interested in working on the land, preferring businesses or salaried jobs. Lower class households also share out their lands, either because of distance or shortage of household labor. Many of these households are headed by widows, or have male members who are unwell or incompetent. Sharecropping is not simply a matter of economics; it indicates a wider relationship between the landowner and cultivator. It is not simply their wealth but also the upper or vulnerable household’s better social connections that underlie their preferential access.
Cropping changes have expanded the market for agricultural labor in Kumirpur. Like sharecropping arrangements, labor is freer than it was. Contracts are shorter term and most work is done by daily labor. No Bengali woman is hired as an agricultural laborer in Kumirpur. Again, benefits are therefore divided by gender as well as class: households without able adult men members are unable to take advantage of the new opportunities. However, Santal woman works as agricultural laborer. But they work the longest of all. Here, clearly, is a classic case of woman’s outside employment, meaning they have to work a double day. Changing in labor contracts indicates shifts in the local form of class relations. Only young boys still have year-round contracts. Otherwise, regular labor is hired on...
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