The Global Construction of Gender

Home-Based Work in the Political Economy of the 20th Century

Elisabeth Prügl

Columbia University Press

The Global Construction of Gender

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Pub Date: September 1999

ISBN: 9780231115612

224 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $33.00£26.00

Pub Date: September 1999

ISBN: 9780231115605

224 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $100.00£77.00

The Global Construction of Gender

Home-Based Work in the Political Economy of the 20th Century

Elisabeth Prügl

Columbia University Press

Gender constructions do not stop at state boundaries.

Global understandings of masculinity and femininity can emerge out of the matrix of international politics. Proposing an innovative conception of global politics by de-emphasizing state actors and instead analyzing competing transnational discourses, The Global Construction of Gender focuses specifically on people who work at home for pay. Prügl explores the debates and rhetoric surrounding home-based workers that have taken place in global movements and multilateral organizations since the early 1900s in order to trace changing conceptions of gender over the course of this century.

As Prügl relates, home-based workers, both urban and rural, engage in a broad array of activities: they "sew garments, embroider, make lace, roll cigarettes, weave carpets, peel shrimp, prepare food, polish plastic, process insurance claims, edit manuscripts, and assemble artificial flowers, umbrellas, and jewelry." These (mostly female) workers are widely recognized as underpaid and exploited. In investigating their plight, Prügl describes the rules that have separated home and work and, in the process, created a diverse array of distinctly gendered identities, including that of the working mother as a social problem, the wage-earning worker as a male breadwinner, the crafts-producing woman as the symbol of Third World nationhood, the woman micro-entrepreneur as the heroine of structural adjustment, and the new androgynous home-based consultant/freelancer/teleworker as the exemplary worker of a flexibly organized global economy.
1. Feminism, Constructivism, and the Global Politics of Home-Based Work
2. Motherly Women--Breadwinning Men: Industrial Homework and the Construction of Western Welfare States
3. Supplemental Earners and National Essence: Home-Based Crafts Producers and Nation-Building in Post-Colonial States
4. Marginal Survivors or Nurturant Entrepreneurs: Home-Based Work in the Informal Sector
5. Fordist Gender Rules at Issue: The Debate over the ILO Convention on Homework
6. Fordist Class Categories at Issue: Are Homeworkers Employees or Self-Employed?
7. Studying Global Politics
Appendix: ILO Convention Concerning Home Work
Notes
Index

About the Author

Elisabeth Prügl is associate professor of international relations at Florida International University.