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Several resources have been developed for the study on which Lives on the Move draws. While its centrepiece is ethnographic research with selected migrant workers, their families, neighbours and co-workers, these ethnographies are embedded within broader surveys, group discussions, in-depth interviews and life histories. These resources are available on this page for reference and use of other researchers. Acknowledgement of use will be appreciated. Recommended citations are available within each of the documents.


Observation checklists

The centrepiece of this research is ethnographic research. By exposing researchers to what might otherwise be perceived as insignificant, ethnographic methods allow them to appreciate the quotidian ways in which people create new identities and forge new practices that interrogate (or affirm) existing relations of power, authority and influence. The observation checklists are being used and improvised by CES Fellows as they ethnographically ‘hang out’with labour migrants and their communities.

Life history checklists

Developing life histories entail the compilation and assembling of ‘life courses’ of individuals in relation to not only their families, neighborhoods and communities, but also the broader socio-economic and political continuities and changes within which they are embedded. Life histories provide a rich source of data that enable researchers to examine the relationship between agency and structure. CES Fellows use and refine the life history checklists to develop granular accounts of select migrant workers with whom they meet over the period of their research.

In-depth interviews

The purpose of the indepth interviews checklists is to develop a detailed understanding of the lives and labours of migrant workers, and examine the ways in which they navigate the social, economic and political changes around them. Indepth interviews are useful for researchers to elicit information in order to achieve a holistic understanding of the interviewee’s point of view or situation. CES Fellows use the in-depth interview checklist to chat with their interlocutors in both the origin and destination locations. Many of the questions they ask flow from the immediate context rather than a pre-determined sequence of questions.

Group discussions checklists

Thematic discussions with groups of individuals with similar socio-economic backgrounds is another source of data for this study. Group discussions are an excellent means of gleaning the collective perspectives of people who live in close proximity with one another. Group discussions enable researchers to tap into shared meanings. The group discussions were conducted by researchers at PRAXIS who developed different checklists to work with men in both source (link with file presently under ‘Men in Source Locations’) and destination (link with file presently under ‘Men in destination locations’) localities, and women in source (link with file presently under ‘Women in destination locations’) localities. The source localities included ten rural locations in the State of Bihar. Destination localities included ten urban locations within Bihar as well as in Delhi.

Participatory mapping

PRAXIS researchers used participatory mapping techniques to complement their insights from the group discussions.  Participatory mapping refers to a research method where participants identify the themes of importance to them and express the linkages between these themes and the people, organisations and structures that impinge upon them. participatory maps were generated for all the twenty locations where group discussions were conducted.


The broader research also draws on surveys of individuals and families. The surveys are multi-sited, reflecting the multi-locational reality experienced by itinerant labour migrants.  Two surveys are being implemented under this project, one in source areas (link with file presently listed under ‘Survey schedule localities or origin) and the other in the destination locations (link with file presently listed under ‘Survey schedule destination localities). The surveys are made up of focussed questionnaires that elicit information from respondents on specific themes pertaining to their socio-economic conditions, including – of course- their patterns of spatial mobility.


Working Papers

Labour migration from (and in) Bihar 

Continuities and change

The Indian State of Bihar is in the throes of political, social and economic change. Long derided as a basket case, the State has registered high rates of economic growth over the last decade. In this context, the present paper investigates the continuities and changes in the pattern of labour migration from and within rural Bihar. 



Policy Briefings

Enhancing mobility: Political and social rights for circular labour migrants

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Conference & Workshops

Mobility of the imagination: ethnographic reflections and prospects.

Cities, Caste and Citizenship: 
The political sociology of urban transformation in India

From subject to citizen? Political remittances of internal migrants in India

Video Portraits

Coming soon. Watch this space.