Feminist Economics - Social Reproduction
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Feminist Economics - Social Reproduction

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Class two of three, introduction to feminist economics

Class two of three, introduction to feminist economics

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  • * Yet 6 out of 10 Traveller children live in a family where their mothers have no formal education or some primary education only.

Feminist Economics - Social Reproduction Feminist Economics - Social Reproduction Presentation Transcript

  • Feminist Economics 2: Care and Social Reproduction 12 June 2014 Belfast Feminist Network Realta Social Space Dr. Conor McCabe King St. Belfast UCD School of Social Justice
  • 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
  • [Lehman collapse, 15 September 2008 - headlines 16 Sep 2008]
  • The purpose of capitalism is self-expansion – capital begets capital – and it does so by monetizing social value and human labour. This is a circuit of transformation. “Historical capitalism involved therefore the widespread commodification of processes – not merely exchange processes, but production processes, distribution processes, and investment processes – that had previously been conducted other than via a ‘market’. And, in the course of seeking to accumulate more and more capital, capitalists have sought to commodify more and more of these social processes in all spheres of economic life.” Immanuel Wallerstein, Historical Capitalism (London: Verso, 2011), 15.
  • capitalism in the past (as distinct from capitalism today) only occupied a narrow platform of economic life. How could one possibly take it to mean a ‘system’ extending over the whole of society? It was nevertheless a world apart, different from and indeed foreign to the social and economic context surrounding it. And it is in relation to this context that it is defined as ‘capitalism’, not merely in relation to new capitalist forms which were to emerge later in time. In fact capitalism was what it was in relation to a non- capitalism of immense proportions. And to refuse to admit this dichotomy within the economy of the past, on the pretext that ‘true’ capitalism dates only from the nineteenth century, means abandoning the effort to understand the significance – crucial to the analysis of that economy – of what might be termed the former typology of capitalism. If there were certain areas where it elected residence – by no means inadvertently – that is because these were the only areas which favoured the reproduction of capital.” (Wheels, p.239)
  • Conventional androcentric assumptions have not been critically examined in scientific and technological (S&T) culture; in the international, national and local mediating agencies that deliver S&T development; or in the communities that are the recipients of development. However, because women are primary deliverers of community welfare on a daily basis to children, the sick and elderly, their households, and the larger social networks that maintain communities, the failure of development projects with respect to women is automatically felt by social groups who depend on their labour and social services. Sandra Harding (1995) ‘Just add women and stir?’ Missing Links: Gender Equity in Science and Technology for Development.
  • Going beyond Braudel’s original argument, household production can be considered as a case in point for such daily, unconscious routines. This then signals one trajectory for understanding aspects of social reproduction over time. Indeed the politics of the everyday offers a current consideration of the separation of life purposes (such as working life, family life and sex life) and the social construction of such spaces. It should be noted that, despite Braudel’s many valuable conceptual inroads, he does not apply gender to his analysis and does not explicitly consider the sexual division of labour in his trilogy. However… his conceptualisations of material life can aid us in understanding the historical dynamics that underpin social reproduction. Isabella Bakker (2007) ‘Social Reproduction and the Constitution of a Gendered Political Economy’, New Political Economy 12:4.
  • Census data consist of ordered sets of numbers. They appear objective and value- free, but their meaning grows out of socially constructed concepts that are laden with cultural and political values. “Statistical reports exemplify the process by which visions of reality, models of social structure, were elaborated and revised,” writes Joan Scott [in Gender and History, 1988) Nancy Folbre, ‘The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought’, Signs, Spring 1991; 16, 3, p.463-4.
  • Gender bias in the definition of economically productive activity has important implications for the analysis of changes in female labour- force participation. One aspect of such gender bias – the concept of the unproductive housewife – gradually coalesced in the nineteenth-century censuses of population in England and the United States. In 1800, women whose work consisted largely of caring for their families were considered productive workers. By 1900, they had been formally relegated to the census category of “dependents,” a category that included infants, young children, the sick and the elderly. Nancy Folbre, ‘The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought’, Signs, Spring 1991; 16, 3, p.463-4.
  • From the very outset, political economy was preoccupied with the distinction between productive and unproductive labour. In the eighteenth century, the French Physiocrats suggested that agriculture was the only true source of surplus and described profits earned in manufacturing as mere distribution. But the Scottish economist Adam Smith offered a spirited defence of manufacturing and called for a new definition of productive labour, based on the addition of “net value” to a vendible commodity. He argued that services were unproductive because they did not contribute to the accumulation of physical wealth. Domestic servants, for example, merely enhanced their employers’ standard of living. Nancy Folbre, ‘The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought’, Signs, Spring 1991; 16, 3, p.469
  • By the end of the nineteenth century, most economists had come to agree that all paid services should be considered productive, and many advocated the term “unproductive” be dropped from the language of their discipline. Yet, almost to a man, they also agreed that nonmarket services lay outside the realm of economics and therefore did not contribute to economic growth. While paid domestic servants were considered part of the labour force, unpaid domestic workers were not. Nonmarket production – a wife’s work in the home, for instance – was implicitly defined as unproductive. Nancy Folbre, ‘The Unproductive Housewife: Her Evolution in Nineteenth-Century Thought’, Signs, Spring 1991; 16, 3, p.470
  • Over the past thirty years, despite 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), p.73.
  • 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’,
  • Labour in this sphere is often devalued and privatised, and is typically performed by women in their ‘double day’ or ‘second shift’, alongside paid wage labour. But reproductive labour of this kind is just as central to capitalist accumulation as are other forms of labour, which means that struggles over its structure and distribution are fundamental to any understanding of issues of power and the relationships between labour and capital, as well as the potential for their transformation. ‘Cuts are a Feminist Issue’,
  • Bangladesh Independence in 1971 – went from public- sector led import-substituting regime to one characterized by measures to promote the private sector and export-led activities. Institutional policies – privatization of public sector, reduction in the number of sectors reserved for public investment, relaxation of rules and procedures for foreign investment Incentive policies – trade liberalization and tariff rationalization, financial sector reforms, export subsidies, corporate tax rebates – dine in part to attract foreign investment 1980 – establishment of an export processing zone in Chittagong, Bangladesh
  • The idea of an export processing zone was suggested to Bangladesh President, Ziaur Rahman in 1976 by the then president of the World Bank, Robert McNamara The idea did not come out of an internal debate within the state – in fact, elements within the state were suspicious of foreign investment. The foreign investment side won through and in 1978 the National Economic Council approved the establishment of a zone in South Halishahar, Chittagong. It opened in 1980 with limited incentives, and became fully operational in 1984. The export processing zone in Dhaka was opened in 1993.
  • At about the same time international lending and aid agencies such as the International Monetary Fund urged elites in Third World countries to increase the production of foreign financed industrial goods for export in order to offset their increasing imbalances of payments - imbalances that were growing in the 1970s due to the higher price of imported oil, private purchases of foreign luxury goods for local elites and government purchases of expensive weaponry to bolster nervous regimes. Out of these discussions - typical all-male affairs - came the formula for development now referred to as Export Processing Zones (EPZs). http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublica tions/csq/article/third-world-women- factories
  • The creation of a Third World female industrial work force "took off" in the 1960s and by the 1980s was a major phenomenon in dozens of Asian, Latin American and African societies. - http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/art icle/third-world-women-factories In the twenty years from 1970 to 1990, the number of textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) workers increased by 597 percent in Malaysia; 416 percent in Bangladesh; 385 percent in Sri Lanka; 334 percent in Indonesia; 271 percent in the Philippines; and 137 percent in Korea. http://www.ilo.org/global/about-the-ilo/media- centre/press-releases/WCMS_008075/lang-- en/index.htm
  • The creation of a Third World female industrial work force "took off" in the 1960s and by the 1980s was a major phenomenon in dozens of Asian, Latin American and African societies. - http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/art icle/third-world-women-factories the executives of certain types of manufacturing companies began to worry about the increasing unionization of their own previously unorganized women workers [in the West] and the consequent pressures for better working conditions and more reasonable wages. These companies operated in some of the most intensely competitive industrial sectors and survived by substituting cheap labour for expensive equipment.
  • The creation of a Third World female industrial work force "took off" in the 1960s and by the 1980s was a major phenomenon in dozens of Asian, Latin American and African societies. - http://www.culturalsurvival.org/ourpublications/csq/art icle/third-world-women-factories the executives of certain types of manufacturing companies began to worry about the increasing unionization of their own previously unorganized women workers [in the West] and the consequent pressures for better working conditions and more reasonable wages. These companies operated in some of the most intensely competitive industrial sectors and survived by substituting cheap labour for expensive equipment. Top priority was given to minimizing labour costs. In fact, minimizing labour costs was the chief reason why factory workforces were women in the first place. [Western workforce was replaced by Asian, Latin American and African workforce.] Firms that deliberately adopted these labour practices were manufacturers of toys, textiles, garments, footwear, electronics and processed foods.
  • Closing down of Dissent - Attacks on Equality in Ireland Equality Bodies – closed down or with reduced Budgets  Combat Poverty Agency –closed 2008 incorporated into the Department of Social Protection  Equality Authority – 2009 43% cut and now being merged with the Human Rights Commission  Women’s Health Council – closed 2009  Crisis Pregnancy Agency – closed and merged with the Health Service Executive  Irish Human Rights Commission -Budget cuts since 2009 and merged with Equality Authority  Equality for Women Measure - co-funded by EU Operational Programme ---budget partly transferred out of this area and now under Dept. For Enterprise, Trade and Employment  National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism (NCCRI) _Closed 2009  Gender Equality desk at the Department (Ministry) of Justice, Equality and Law Reform – Desk Closed 2009  Gender Equality Unit – Department of Education – Closed early 2000s  Higher Education Equality Unit – UCC -Closed and merged into Higher Education Authority (early 2000s)  National Women’s Council of Ireland -158 member organisations- budget cuts of 15% in 2008-11 and 38% in 2012  Traveller Education cutbacks 2011 and 2012 – all 42 Visiting teaches for Travellers removed*  Rape Crisis Network Ireland – core Health Authority Funding removed 2011  SAFE Ireland network of Women’s’ Refuges - core Health Authority Funding removed 2011  People With Disabilities in Ireland's (PWDI) - funding removed 2012  National Carers’ Strategy – abandoned 2009 Kathleen Lynch, Equality Studies UCD School of Social Justice 78