Concepts, Research, Policy
Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 2: Strategic Gendering: One Factor in the Constituting of Novel Political Economies
Saskia Sassen Microlevel social, economic and political conditions have complex interactions with particular macrolevel economic restructuring processes. The interactions focused on here are not generalised and diffuse but partial and particular. For instance, labour migrations are not simply about the survival strategies of migrants and their households. They are also microlevel enactments of larger processes of economic restructuring in sending and receiving countries. These include International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank programmes that have devastated traditional economies in the Global South and forced states to shift growing shares of revenue into debt servicing. And they include the growing demand for a wide range of very low-wage jobs in some of the most advanced, rather than declining or backward, economic sectors in highly developed countries. The effort here is to lay bare the specific ways in which gendering becomes strategic for the emergence and for the functioning of major restructuring processes and the partial economies that get constituted in this interaction. By ‘strategic gendering’ I seek to capture not simply the outcomes of gendering, but those processes where gendering is constitutive, where the fact itself of gendering is an enabling condition for particular processes of restructuring. One outcome, albeit partial, is the feminising of survival, not only for households, but also for firms and for governments (Sassen, 2001). I first examine how strategic gendering has been at work in the constituting of earlier political economies, and next, how it is at work in the current period, one marked by powerful...
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