Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender
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Handbook on the International Political Economy of Gender

Edited by Juanita Elias and Adrienne Roberts

This Handbook brings together leading interdisciplinary scholarship on the gendered nature of the international political economy. Spanning a wide range of theoretical traditions and empirical foci, it explores the multifaceted ways in which gender relations constitute and are shaped by global politico-economic processes. It further interrogates the gendered ideologies and discourses that underpin everyday practices from the local to the global. The chapters in this collection identify, analyse, critique and challenge gender-based inequalities, whilst also highlighting the intersectional nature of gendered oppressions in the contemporary world order.
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Chapter 25: Women and unfree labour in the global political economy

Genevieve LeBaron


This chapter explores the links between gender and unfree labour – including those forms often referred to as forced labour, human trafficking and modern slavery – in the global economy. It argues that although significant media, policy and scholarly attention have focused on the trafficking of women and girls and their exploitation within the sex, domestic and care industries, there has been a tendency to overlook women’s exploitation within ‘productive’ industry, including agriculture, electronics, garments and fisheries. This depiction has led to a skewed understanding of women’s vulnerability to unfree labour, as well as its causes and solutions. Building on V. Spike Peterson’s insight that our theoretical conceptualizations of ‘gender’ in political economy matter, the author argues that in addition to stronger and different empirics, deeper theoretical thinking is necessary to make meaningful progress towards understanding gender and unfree labour in International Political Economy.

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