Webs of Trade – Dynamics of Business Communities in Western India

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When people speak of the ‘liberalisation’ of the Indian economy and plead for its ‘deregulation’, they are referring primarily to the control that the state exercises over the market. However, there are many other factors which play a crucial role in the definition, organisation and evolution of trade in India. This book reminds us of them and of the implicit rules according to which markets function.

Through individual case studies based on fieldwork in different locations of western India, this book sets out to explore the processes by which social, cultural and economic factors are woven together into webs of trade. While all these studies focus on the role played by business communities in the organisation of trade at the local level, the authors go beyond the simple dichotomy between sociological reification and economic formalism. It is in this perspective that particular emphasis has been placed on the role of kinship and credit networks and on the spatial organisation of commercial activities at the local level.

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