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From “Country Bumpkins” to “Tough Workers”: The Pursuit of Masculinity Among Male Factory Workers in China


Kim, Jaesok. 2015. "From “Country Bumpkins” to “Tough Workers”: The Pursuit of Masculinity Among Male Factory Workers in China." Anthropological Quarterly 88 (1): 133-161.

Author: Jaesok Kim


This article explores the formation of a new industrial underclass in post- Mao China, focusing on a group of young male workers' gendered interpretation of their subjection to an exploitative factory regime. I examine the experiential and performative dimensions of this subjection, which are intricately linked to China's insertion into the global capitalist economy. The transformation of China into the "world's factory" depended on the dramatic increase of foreign direct investment and the rapid expansion of labor-intensive, low-skilled factory jobs that favored the labor of rural migrant women. While the "feminization of production labor" generated some positive outcomes among the women workers, it turned a group of unskilled young male migrants into an industrial underclass. These men assumed menial jobs that drained their physical strength while offering virtually no chance of promotion or improvement in their future lives. Male workers reacted to the exploitative factory regime by engaging in binge drinking and extreme forms of anti-social behavior. This case study shows how class solidarity is sometimes deflected into the domain of gender conflict.

Keywords: labor, gender, masculinity, multinational corporation, China, garment industry, globalization

Topics: Class, Displacement & Migration, Migration, Economies, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Globalization, Livelihoods, Multi-national Corporations, Political Economies Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: China

Year: 2015

Becoming an International Man: Top Manager Masculinities in the Making of a Multinational Corporation


Tienari, Janne, Eero Vaara, and Susan Merilainen. 2010. “Becoming an International Man: Top Manager Masculinities in the Making of a Multinational Corporation.” Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal 29 (1): 38–52.

Authors: Janne Tienari, Eero Vaara, Susan Merilainen


Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to address gender and management in contemporary globalization by focusing on the ways in which male top managers in a multinational corporation (MNC) construct their identities in interviews with researchers.

Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative analysis based on interviews with virtually all top managers in the Nordic financial services company Nordea (53 men and two women).

Findings – It is found that becoming international induces a particular masculine identity for the top managers. In becoming international, however, their national identification persists. The instability of the MNC as a political constellation leaves room for questioning the transnational identity offered.

Originality/value - This paper's findings suggest that in the global world of business, national identity can also be interpreted as something positive and productive, contrary to how it has been previously treated in feminist and men's studies literature.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Globalization, Multi-national Corporations, Nationalism Regions: Europe, Nordic states

Year: 2010

Feminine Villains, Masculine Heroes, and the Reproduction of Ciudad Juarez


Wright, Melissa W. 2001. “Feminine Villains, Masculine Heroes, and the Reproduction of Ciudad Juarez.” Social Text 19 (4): 93–113.

Author: Melissa W. Wright


From Introduction: In this essay, I attempt to demonstrate how this development plan for “the next Silicon Valley of Mexico” necessarily requires the reproduction of the current city, marked by poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and unskilled, low-waged laborers who work in labor-intensive industries. This contradiction becomes clear upon close inspection of the proposal’s internal design, which is revealed through the narratives used to describe and justify it. These explanations reveal that the Silicon Valley of Mexico proposal does not call for the replacement of the unskilled laborers who live in squatter settlements and attend overcrowded schools. Rather, ORION’s plan for the Silicon Valley of Mexico promises to join high-tech, design-oriented operations with the labor-intensive manufacturing facilities that still mainly rely upon low-waged workers who live in poorly serviced areas of the city. These are the very workers that ORION’s team needs in order to convince potential investors that the proposal for developing the next Silicon Valley of Mexico is a viable plan.

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Infrastructure, Livelihoods, Political Economies Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico

Year: 2001

Judi Bari and ‘The Feminization of Earth First!’: The Convergence of Class, Gender and Radical Environmentalism


Shantz, Jeffrey. 2002. “Judi Bari and ‘The Feminization of Earth First!’: The Convergence of Class, Gender and Radical Environmentalism.” Feminist Review, no. 70, 105–22.

Author: Jeffrey Shantz


This paper addresses feminist materialism as political practice through a case study of IWW-Earth First! Local 1, the late Judi Bari's organization of a radical ecology/timber workers' union in the ancient redwood forests of Northern California. Rejecting the Earth First! mythology of timber workers as 'enemies' of nature, Bari sought to unite workers and environmentalists in pursuit of sustainable forestry practices against the devastating approaches favoured by multinational logging corporations. In so doing, she brought a working-class feminist perspective to the radical ecology of Earth First! Bari's work provided a significant instance of community organizing in opposition to the masculinist, exclusionary practices and misanthropic posturing of Earth First!'s self-proclaimed 'eco-warriors' and 'rednecks for nature'. What is perhaps most interesting about the deveelopment of Local 1 is the articulation of feminist, environmentalist and labour discourses through a series of political actions.

Keywords: ecofeminism, anarchism, syndicalism, Earth First!, industrial workers of the world, deep ecology

Topics: Civil Society, Environment, Feminisms, Ecofeminism, Gender, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Multi-national Corporations, Political Participation Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2002

Gendered Sharecropping: Waged and Unwaged Mexican Immigrant Labor in the California Strawberry Fields


Sanchez, Teresa Figueroa. 2015. “Gendered Sharecropping: Waged and Unwaged Mexican Immigrant Labor in the California Strawberry Fields.” Signs 40 (4): 917–38. 

Author: Teresa Figueroa Sanchez


Mexican immigrants play an important role in the development of the strawberry sharecropping industry in California. Although scholars have studied the political economy of strawberry sharecropping, I examine Mexican immigrant male and female sharecroppers who restructured their households to employ mostly women and underage pickers during the strawberry harvest. Based on ethnographic research and my autoethnography, I argue that sharecroppers developed a complex social system to pay wages, distribute domingos (pocket money), collect stipends, and manage savings—not without some tension along gender lines—within immigrant households. Using a feminist political economy perspective, this article sheds new light on the economic and social reproduction of the immigrant household and the appropriation of women’s undervalued labor in advanced capitalist economies.

Topics: Economies, Gender, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Households, Political Economies Regions: Americas, North America Countries: Mexico, United States of America

Year: 2015

The Political Economy of ‘Transnational Business Feminism’: Problematizing the Corporate-Led Gender Equality Agenda


Roberts, Adrienne. 2015. “The Political Economy of ‘Transnational Business Feminism’: Problematizing the Corporate-led Gender Equality Agenda.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (2): 209–31.

Author: Adrienne Roberts


This article traces the emergence of a politico-economic project of "transnational business feminism" (TBF) over the past decade. This project - which is being developed by a coalition of states, financial institutions, the UN, corporations, NGOs and others - stresses the "business case" for gender equality by arguing that investments made in women can (and should) be measured in terms of the cost savings to families and communities, as well as in terms of boosting corporate profitability and national competitiveness. This article uses a feminist historical materialist framework to argue that TBF is facilitating the further entrenchment of the power of corporations to create "expert" knowledges about both "gender" and "development." Using the Nike-led "Girl Effect" campaign as an example, it is argued that TBF is promoting a naturalized and essentialized view of women and gender relations that ignores the historical and structural causes of poverty and gender-based inequality. It is also helping to reproduce the same neoliberal macroeconomic framework that has created and sustained gender-based and other forms of oppression via the global feminization of labor, the erosion of support for social reproduction and the splintering of feminist critiques of capitalism.

Keywords: transnational business feminism, feminist IPE, feminist historical materialism, the business case for gender equality, World Bank, social reproduction, the Girl Effect

Topics: Development, Economies, Poverty, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, International Financial Institutions, International Organizations, Multi-national Corporations, NGOs, Political Economies

Year: 2015

Gender Eclipsed? Racial Hierarchies in Transnational Call Center Work


Mirchandani, Kiran. 2005. “Gender Eclipsed? Racial Hierarchies in Transnational Call Center Work.” Social Justice 32 (4): 105–19.

Author: Kiran Mirchandani


Feminist ethnographies on the nature of global capitalism have provided a wealth of knowledge on the gendered nature of transnational subcontracting and on the ways that women in the many parts of Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America have been constructed as the "ideal" workers within transnational factories producing garments, food products, shoes, electronics, and transcriptions at nominal cost in developing countries. This article explores a seemingly opposite trend at play in Indian call centers that provide voice-to-voice service to U.S. clients. Call center work is in many ways the epitome of what is commonly seen as "women's work." Providing good service on the telephone requires skills associated with hegemonic femininity, such as being nice, making customers feel comfortable, and dealing with irate customers (Hochschild, 1983; Steinberg and Figart, 1999; Leidner, 1999). Yet, interestingly enough, call center work in the newly emerging centers in New Delhi is not always segregated by gender. In fact, in the interviews I conducted, managers, trainers, and workers unanimously and emphatically construct their jobs in call centers as free of gender-bias and equally appropriate formal and female workers. This article evaluates these discursive claims of occupational desegregation in transnational call center work in India. I argue that the gender segregation in segments of the outsourced call center industry in India is situated within the context of racial hierarchies between Indian workers and Western customers, which fundamentally structure transnational service work. Gender is "eclipsed" in the sense that it is hidden behind a profound, racialized gendering of jobs at a transnational level.

Topics: Economies, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Gender Roles, Femininity/ies, Gendered Discourses, Globalization, Multi-national Corporations, Race Regions: Asia, South Asia Countries: India

Year: 2005

The Invisibility of Skilled Female Migrants and Gender Relations in Studies of Skilled Migration in Europe


Kofman, Eleonore. 2000. “The Invisibility of Skilled Female Migrants and Gender Relations in Studies of Skilled Migration in Europe.” International Journal of Population Geography 6 (1): 45–59.

Author: Eleonore Kofman


This paper examines the reasons for the invisibility of skilled female migrants in studies of skilled migration in Europe. The choice of research agendas has played a major part in rendering women invisible. The emphasis has generally been on transnational corporations, which, especially in their higher ranks, remain resolutely male-dominated. The presence of migrants in welfare sectors (i.e. education, health and social services), which are strongly feminised, has been ignored. Feminist research has also tended to obscure the role of skilled migrants in its emphasis on the unskilled. Theoretical and methodological developments in studies of migration have also made few inroads into our understanding of skilled migration.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Migration, Education, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Femininity/ies, Gendered Power Relations, Health, Multi-national Corporations Regions: Europe

Year: 2000


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