Processes of globalization—the liberalization of national markets, the rapid movement of goods, services, and labor across national borders—have had profound impacts on local contexts, perhaps especially so in the Global South. While some people in the worlds of business, media, and even academia praise such policies for benefitting the poor in these countries, others, particular actors on the left, are highly critical of them for leaving impoverished populations and places behind.
Entering this conversation with a fresh take and a novel case is sociologist Patrick Inglis
, whose new book Narrow Fairways: Getting By and Falling Behind in the New India
(Oxford University Press, 2019) uses the interactions between elite members of golf clubs in city of Bangalore and the caddies who carry their bags to examine how globalization is both upending and reproducing a status quo of extreme inequality. Based on more than ten years of ethnographic fieldwork, Inglis takes readers inside these clubs to show how the concentrated wealth and the increased privatization of institutions and social services in India—e.g. education, healthcare—have made the low-income, highly precarious caddies highly dependent on the members they serve. Through “upward servility,” a set of strategies of servility and deference, the caddies attempt to show members their worthiness for support and guidance and overcome a caste status they claim doesn’t influence their chances at upward mobility. By showcasing the lives and voices of the caddies, Inglis shows how globalization may not be creating polarized societies of haves and have-nots, but situations in which the rich and poor find themselves closely intertwined and in dubiously sustainable relationships.
Richard E. Ocejo is associate professor of sociology at John Jay College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of Masters of Craft: Old Jobs in the New Urban Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017) and of Upscaling Downtown: From Bowery Saloons to Cocktail Bars in New York City (Princeton University Press, 2014).