Lahore School of Economics

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Class structure of Pakistan and its implications

Dr. Taimur Rahman, Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)


The paper argues that the class structure of Pakistan is characterized by Asiatic capitalism, with the non-agricultural sector of the economy dominated by petty commodity production and small-scale capitalism. This has implications for the country’s politics, society, and culture.

First, the author establishes that the mode of production of pre-colonial South Asia was qualitatively distinct from European feudalism. Marx’s notion of the Asiatic mode of production is more consistent with the pre-colonial historical evidence.

Second, the colonial path of capitalist development of South Asia resulted in a socio-economic formation that combined features of the Asiatic and capitalist modes of production, which this study terms Asiatic capitalism. Empirical analysis of agrarian relations in Pakistan reveals the relative absence of wage labour and the continuing existence of various forms of pre-capitalist economic relations within the overall framework of a capitalist economy.

Third, the vast majority of the non-agricultural working population of Pakistan today is engaged in handicraft and manufacture. However, manufacturing and services are dominated by petty commodity production and small-scale capitalism. Hence, while being significant in terms of output, the formal large-scale industrial sector, which was developed along the model of state-corporate capitalism, remains relatively small in terms of provision of employment.

About the presenter:

Dr. Taimur Rahman is assistant professor and coordinator of the Political Science stream at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He has also taught Economics at The Lahore School of Economics between 1998-2002. He graduated from Grinnell College, obtained a Masters from Sussex University and holds a Ph.D in Class Structure of Pakistan from the School of Oriental and African Studies. And he is also the spokesperson for the popular music band called Laal.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/04/2014 11:00:00 AM,

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