International Handbooks on Gender series
Edited by Jill Steans and Daniela Tepe
Chapter 41: Gender in global restructuring
There has been a feminist literature on economic development and international political economy (IPE) since the 1970s and 1980s. Since the 1990s feminist global political economy (GPE) scholarship has been focusing on globalization in part as a result of feminist poststructural and postcolonial interventions that went beyond examinations of the impact of state–market relations on women to bring greater attention to the gendered ideological and socio-cultural underpinnings of the GPE and the production of gendered subjectivities as well as material effects on gendered bodies. But this shift was also in response to the “buzzword” status globalization had achieved in policy circles and even popular culture and the challenges it appeared to be making to even powerful states as arbiters of economic relations. However, despite decades of feminist development and IPE analysis, early globalization studies, whether promulgated by those on the right or left of the political spectrum, largely ignored gender analysis. Instead, totalizing pictures of globalization, whether extolled or lamented, were purveyed that represented it as a force from everywhere and nowhere. Globalization was credited with the unprecedented capacity to break down economic, political and cultural sovereignties and borders in order to spread capitalist production, universalize capitalist values at the expense of social welfare protections, and homogenize cultures through time and space compressions enabled by new transportation and communication technologies. It was also viewed as unstoppable, creating either global cosmopolitanism and/or a global race to the bottom.
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