Identity and Behaviour
- CSC China Perspectives series
Edited by Minglu Chen and David S.G. Goodman
Chapter 4: White-collar workers: gender and class politics in an urban organization
Feminist discussion on the relationship between gender and class originates in the early debate of the relationship between patriarchy and capitalism. Dual systems theory, one of the prominent frameworks of feminist discourse on this subject, argues that patriarchy and capitalism are related structures of domination that lead to the dual inequalities of gender and class for women (Hartmann, 1979; Walby, 1986, 1990; Delphy and Leonard, 1992). It has been crucial in emphasizing a structural, economic and historical context for the analysis of gender inequalities. However, the theory is criticized for its assumption that patriarchy and capitalism are independent structures. Instead, it has been argued that class and gender relations should be analysed and considered as mutually constitutive concepts (Pollert, 1996; Acker, 2000, 2006). At the specific organizational level, one of the methods used to achieve the analysis of mutually constitutive class and gender relations is grounded in a processual approach. This approach is closely associated with the way in which concepts of gender and class are defined. Gender is defined ‘as a complex and contradictory system of social relations and culture that includes expectations, ideology, social and economic, political structures, and micro-level statuses, identities and practices’ (Martin, 2001, p. 590). The processual approach is crucial to exploring the production and reproduction of gender relations within specific work organizations (Munro, 2001). While class is widely regarded as a difficult concept to define (see Crompton, 2010), in the organizational setting it may be viewed as the ‘enduring and systematic differences in access to and control over resources’ (Acker, 2006, p. 444).
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