Time Use and Labor Contributions: For a Different Understanding of Collective Management

Sirisha C. Naidu, Wright State University - Main Campus

This paper was presented at the 13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons on January 10-14, 2011 in Hyderabad, India.


Successful participatory or collective resource management is premised on adequate labor (and/or monetary) contributions; the attention devoted to uncovering the factors that impact these contributions has enriched our understanding of the commons and its relationship with those whose livelihoods depend on them. This paper, however, turns its attention to the nature of these labor contributions and comments on their potential implications for the sustainability of participatory or collective resource management. In doing so, two issues are taken up for consideration – a) time allocation of livelihood activities within the household and b) the articulation of agrarian subsistence livelihoods within a capitalist economy. Despite advances made in assigning market value to nonmarket environmental goods and services, there is a relatively low degree of appreciation of the time required to fulfill household productive and reproductive needs in agrarian subsistence livelihoods. Consequently, we do not fully comprehend the ‘hidden’ cost of participating in collective resource management. An analysis of intrahousehold processes and a deepening divide between capitalist production and social reproduction could help explain time constraints faced by the poor (especially women). Understanding nature as a an ontological reality as well as an outcome of historically specific social relationships of production, and newer and/or recombinant forms of resource management, this paper situates its analysis within the Indian socio-historical context.