Handbook of Employment and Society
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Handbook of Employment and Society

Working Space

Edited by Susan McGrath-Champ, Andrew Herod and Al Rainnie

This Handbook deepens and extends the engagement between research concerned with work and employment and labour geography. It links fundamental concepts concerning the politics of place that human geographers have developed in recent years with the world of work.
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Chapter 8: Gender, Space and Labour Market Participation: The Experiences of British Pakistani Women

Robina Mohammad


Robina Mohammad In this chapter I examine the significance of space for working-class British Pakistani Muslim women’s access to the formal labour market. Space and power: geography, feminism and labour . . . [j]ust as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. (Said, 1994, p.7) According to Foucault, space is key to disciplinary technologies: ‘discipline proceeds from an organization of individuals in space, and it requires a specific enclosure of space’ (cited in Rabinow, 1991, p. 17), a particular spatial ordering, spanning the body, the local, the global, public and private. Put another way, power proceeds from the control and regulation of space. Thus, the struggle for power and equality is necessarily a struggle over space. The struggle over geography was most obviously central to the decolonisation movements of the post-World War II period but it is also significant for other social movements, most notably postwar Anglo-American feminism. Then in its second wave, this movement foregrounded geography in the struggle for gender equality by calling into question the taken-for-grantedness of women’s location within the private domestic sphere and the gender division of labour by which they were allocated non-paid work. One strand of feminist thought argued that women’s exclusion from power was underpinned by their exclusion from the public sphere, from participation in the formal economy and politics. For Betty Friedan, regarded as the midwife of second-wave feminism, the site of the home was not only politically and economically disempowering...

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