Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy


Media Studies


Dyer-Witheford, Nick

2nd Supervisor

Quan-Haase, Anabel


The dissertation investigates the life, working conditions and urban experience of support-service workers in the Information Technology (IT) sector of India: the janitors, security guards, fast food delivery service professionals and car pool drivers who work in and around technology parks that develop software applications for a world-market. The common experiences of these employees are migration from rural contexts to a radically modern employment setting, where they work long hours with minimal benefits in informal conditions that often violate basic labour laws. The thesis draws on quantitative and qualitative research, and in particular on analysis and interpretation of hundred and six (106) interviews with IT support service workers, conducted across five Indian cities. Drawing on the analysis and interpretation of the interviews, the research describes the nature of the labour these workers are engaged in and their living conditions in relation to the Indian IT industry and the globalized urban space. Furthermore, the research examines the following questions: how do support-service workers with a traditional upbringing negotiate their rural identities with the homogenizing effects of globalization in an alienating urban context? How do the workers make sense of the ideas of freedom, individualism, flexibility and innovation of the digital society? Is there a possibility of the formation of class consciousness among these workers? The research shows that for these support-service workers the daily life is not limited by the polarized choice between the celebration of modern urban life or the adoption of identity politics shaped by their tradition. Rather their choices are contingent on the success or failure of their everyday struggle against the contractors, corporations and various other hegemonic relations in an increasingly privatized urban space.