Edited by John B. Davis and Wilfred Dolfsma
Chapter 13: Feminism and/in economics
Feminism is as old as humanity. Women have been standing up to defend their equality with men and their rights as women over the centuries, using all possible means of publication available. The first feminist texts and publications emerged in the late Middle Ages and their number increased in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Organized feminism is a phenomenon of a more recent date: the first women’s organizations were founded around 1850. We, contemporary readers, are used to perceiving the most recent feminist wave as ‘the second wave of feminism’. Historians, however, have identified many more feminist waves, up to six or more in Western history (see, e.g., Akkerman and Stuurman, 1998; Offen, 2000). Since the early Enlightenment, the dawn of economic science, four feminist waves have occurred and had an impact on economics as a science. Feminist historians of economics claim that (anti-)feminism and economic science developed not separately, but that, instead, these developments were closely linked (Pujol, 1992; Seiz, 1993; Nelson, 1995). Images around the roles of women and men in the reproductive process are reflected in the use of metaphors in science and importantly have structured the conceptualization of objectivity and rationality (see, e.g., Keller, 1987; Harding, 1986; Bordo, 1987). In economic science notions of sex and gender have had an impact on the way concepts such as ‘skills’, ‘labour’, ‘productivity’ and ‘value’ were given content (Seiz, 1992; Nelson, 1995).
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