A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy
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A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett

The current context of social policy is one in which many of the old certainties of the past have been eroded. The predominantly inward-looking, domestic preoccupation of social policy has made way for a more integrated, international and outward approach to analysis which looks beyond the boundaries of the state. It is in this context that this Handbook brings together the work of key commentators in the field of comparative analysis in order to provide comprehensive coverage of contemporary debates and issues in cross-national social policy research.
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Chapter 2: Globalization, the State and Welfare: Gendering The Debate

Jill Steans


Jill Steans Introduction This chapter reflects on issues of gender in the globalization and social policy debate, from the perspective of one whose interests lie primarily in feminist International Political Economy (IPE). Within IPE the issue of welfare has been largely subsumed within a debate about globalization and the changing roles and functions of the state, focusing, in the main, on the problems that deregulation (particularly in financial markets) pose for national economic policy-makers. Feminist scholars have paid much closer attention to the gendered nature of globalization/global restructuring,1 highlighting the socially embedded nature of economic activity and the social impact of global restructuring and adjustment. (See, for example, Enloe, 1989; Peterson and Runyan, 1993; Pettman, 1997; Sassen, 1998; Steans, 1998, 1999; Youngs, 1999; Marchand and Runyan, 2000; Breman et al., 2000; Wichterich, 2000; Dickenson and Schaeffer, 2001.) The first section of the chapter considers the way in which ‘critical’ IPE (meaning in the context of neoGramscian IPE) has understood the nature of the global ‘world order’. It is suggested that to some degree the conception of historically constituted structures and practices within which political and economic activity takes place, which one finds in neoGramscian IPE, is helpful to feminists seeking to elucidate the gendered nature of world order. However, whatever the achievements of critical IPE, conceptions of ‘world order’ have been largely gender blind (Tickner, 1992; Krause, 1994; Sylvester, 1994). The empirical focus of much critical IPE is on class relations and class politics. Conceptions of world order...

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