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Irish Political Economy, Class Six: Gender and Austerity
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Irish Political Economy, Class Six: Gender and Austerity

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Class six in Irish political economy for trade unionists and activists

Class six in Irish political economy for trade unionists and activists

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  • 1. Irish Political Economy for Trade Unionists and Activists 6. Gender & Austerity
  • 2. 1. Societies are relational.
  • 3. 1. Societies are relational. 2. The endless accumulation of capital is inherently destructive in terms of humanity and the environment.
  • 4. 1. Societies are relational. 2. The endless accumulation of capital is inherently destructive in terms of humanity and the environment. 3. The capitalist mode of production is a patriarchal mode of production – ‘economic man’ saturates its conceptual framework.
  • 5. Rational Economic Man • An autonomous agent • able bodied, independent, rational, heterosexual male who is able to choose from an number of options limited only by certain constraints. • Weighs cost and benefits to maximise utility • Self interested in marketplace; altruistic at home
  • 6. It’s one thing to say people interact with to each other…
  • 7. Another to say people interact with each other solely through profit-seeking markets
  • 8. “Capitalism exploits more work and production relations than just labour relations.”
  • 9. Social Reproduction Renewing life is a form of work, a kind of production, as fundamental to the perpetuation of society as the production of things. Barbara Laslett and Johanna Brenner, ’ Gender and Social Reproduction: Historical Perspectives,’ Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 15 (1989): 383
  • 10. Social Reproduction Renewing life is a form of work, a kind of production, as fundamental to the perpetuation of society as the production of things. Moreover, the social organization of that work, the set of social relationships through which people act to get it done, has varied widely and that variation has been central to the organization of gender relations and gender inequality. Barbara Laslett and Johanna Brenner, ’ Gender and Social Reproduction: Historical Perspectives,’ Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 15 (1989): 383
  • 11. Social Reproduction Renewing life is a form of work, a kind of production, as fundamental to the perpetuation of society as the production of things. Moreover, the social organization of that work, the set of social relationships through which people act to get it done, has varied widely and that variation has been central to the organization of gender relations and gender inequality. From this point of view, societal reproduction includes not only the organization of production but the organization of social reproduction, and the perpetuation of gender as well as class relations. Barbara Laslett and Johanna Brenner, ’ Gender and Social Reproduction: Historical Perspectives,’ Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 15 (1989): 383
  • 12. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 13. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. It includes all the labour that is necessary for a society to reproduce itself: the biological production of people and workers, and all the social practices that sustain the population - bearing children, raising children, performing emotional work, providing clothing and food, and cooking and cleaning. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 14. The term social reproduction encompasses all the means by which society reproduces its families, citizens and workers. It includes all the labour that is necessary for a society to reproduce itself: the biological production of people and workers, and all the social practices that sustain the population - bearing children, raising children, performing emotional work, providing clothing and food, and cooking and cleaning. As a concept social reproduction has been key to feminist social theory, because it challenges the usual distinctions that are made between productive and reproductive labour, or between the labour market and the home. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 15. Over the past thirty years, despite their being essential to human life, neoliberal restructuring across the world has privatised, eroded and demolished our shared resources, and ushered in a ‘crisis of social reproduction.’ ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 16. as a result of cuts to benefits and the social wage, women are also being forced out of the home and into (predominantly low paid) waged work, as families increasingly require more income to cover the basic cost of living. [In the UK] Proposed benefit reform brutally promises to `encourage' mothers back to work through compulsory labour programmes; lone parents will be expected to be actively seeking work when their children are as young as five years old. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 17. The combined effects for working women of the removal of socially provided childcare (which should be seen as part of the social wage), the diminishing availability of work that pays an adequate wage, and the increase in their responsibilities for unpaid care work, tend to push women into informal labour markets, including sex work, that are unregulated, and in which workers face high levels of exploitation and, often, violence. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’, Soundings (Dec 2011)
  • 18. Gender and Caring Notes on Lynch and Lyons, ‘The Gendered Order of Caring’ in Ursula Barry (ed) Where Are We Now? New Feminist Perspectives on Women in Contemporary Ireland (Dublin: Tasc, 2008)
  • 19. There are deep gender inequalities in the doing of care and love work that operate to the advantage of men. It is women’s unwaged labour and related domestic labour that frees men up to exercise control in the public sphere of politics, the economy and culture. … there is a moral imperative on women to do care work that does not apply equally to men ; a highly gendered moral code impels women to do the greater part of primary caring, with most believing they have no choice in the matter.
  • 20. The reason love and care matter is because we are relational beings, emotional as well as intellectual, social as well as individual. P.165 Feminist-inspired scholars have drawn attention to the salience of care and love as public goods, and have identified the importance of caring as a human capability meeting a basic human need. (1) They have also exposed the limitations of conceptualisations of citizenship devoid of a concept of care, and highlighted the importance of caring as work, work that needs to be distributed equally between women and men in particular. 1. Nassbaum, Glover (eds) Women, Culture and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)
  • 21. The Irish government collects data on unpaid caring within households in 1.the Census 2.the Quarterly Household Survey (QNHS). Within the Census, care is defined as being given by ‘persons aged 15yrs and over who provide regular unpaid help for a friend or family member with a long-term illness, health problem or disability (including problems due to age). P.167-8
  • 22. The way care is defined in the Census excludes what constitutes a major category of care work, that of the ordinary, everyday care of children (unless the child has a recognised disability). Data on the care of children is compiled in the QNHS, however, and is also available through the European Community Household Panel (ECPH) survey. The focus in all three is on the hours of work involved in caring so we do not know the nature and scope of the caring involved. P.168
  • 23. According to the [2006] Census there are less than 150,000 people, 5 per cent of the adult population in unpaid care work (mostly with adults) of whom 61 per cent are women and 39 per cent are men. However, when we measure all types of caring activity, as has been done in the European Community household Panel (ECPH) we see that there are 1 million people who do caring who are not named in the census.
  • 24. Even though it is no doubt unintentional, the failure to collect data on hours spent on child care work in the Census, means that child care, which is the major form of care work in Irish society, is no counted in terms of work hours. … women are almost five times as likely to work long care hours than is the case for men. Women spend much more time at care work than men, even when they are employed.