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Liberating Economics

Feminist Perspectives on Families, Work, and Globalization

Drucilla K. Barker and Susan F. Feiner

Publication Year: 2004

This imaginatively written volume is essential reading for all who want to learn about the feminist revolution in economic thought. Accessible to nonspecialists and students from all fields, this book shows how gender, race, nation, and class interact in economic systems to influence human well-being. --Diana Strassman, Professor of the Practice, Senior Research Fellow, and Editor, Feminist Economics, Rice University "Feminism teaches us to think of the person in context: family, social and global. The atomism beloved of economics from the man's perspective melts away when you do that--and it's about time, too. " --James Galbraith, LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin Liberating Economics draws on central concepts from women's studies scholarship to construct a feminist understanding of the economic roles of families, caring labor, motherhood, paid and unpaid labor, poverty, the feminization of labor, and the consequences of globalization. Barker and Feiner consistently recognize the importance of social location -- gender, race, class, sexual identity, and nationality -- in economic processes shaping the home, paid employment, market relations, and the global economy. Throughout they connect women's economic status in the industrialized nations to the economic circumstances surrounding women in the global South. Rooted in the two disciplines, this book draws on the rich tradition of interdisciplinary work in feminist social science scholarship to construct a parallel between the notions that the "personal is political" and "the personal is economic."

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Advances in Heterodox Economics


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pp. vii-viii

List of Figures

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

As feminists and as economists it is important to begin with context and history—both the personal and the professional. Our vision of economics was shaped by the political and cultural movements of the 1960s and1970s, including the antiwar movement, the civil rights movement and the women’s movement. An important insight of this era is expressed in the slogan ...

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Chapter 1. "Economics," She Wrote

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pp. 1-18

It is the best of times; it is the worst of times. Today, women’s contribution to economic well-being is more than matched by the injustices that accompany their work. Virtually all international organizations agree that gender equity is necessary for economic growth and prosperity, yet inequality and exploitation haunt the lives of women and girls everywhere....

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Chapter 2. Family Matters: Reproducing the Gender Division of Labor

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pp. 19-40

A catchy restaurant slogan cheerily proclaims, “When you’re here, you’re family!” We ask, is our dinner free? Can we wash the dishes instead of paying the bill? Of course not—when you patronize a restaurant, you are a customer not a family member. Families are social units made up of people joined by marriage, birth or adoption, or mutual consent who offer each...

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Chapter 3. Love's Labors—Care's Costs

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pp. 41-55

How often have we heard the expression “a labor of love” to describe work done for the benefit of family and friends? A moment’s reflection reveals that labors of love are most often associated with work done by women in the home. Feminist economists refer to this sort of work as “caring labor.”Today, the tasks associated with care are either provided by families, purchased ...

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Chapter 4. Women, Work, and National Policies

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pp. 56-74

All over the world women are participating in paid labor in greater and greater numbers. Today, in many countries throughout the world, women make up approximately half of the paid workforce; however, they do not participate on an equal footing with men. Even the most cursory examination reveals that paid labor is by and large divided into “men’s” jobs and ...

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Chapter 5. Women and Poverty in the Industrialized Countries

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pp. 75-94

The view that there is an inescapable tension between economic justice and economic growth is an artifact of outmoded economic theories—theories that depend as much upon Victorian notions of gender roles as they do on simplistic notions of aggregate economic behavior.1 Rejecting regressive views of the economy, like rejecting Victorian views about women’s...

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Chapter 6. Globalization Is a Feminist Issue

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pp. 95-117

The Barbie dolls, soccer balls, and stuffed animals that ‹ll toy store shelves in the United States and Europe were probably manufactured in other, less prosperous countries. In fact, many of the clothes, shoes, appliances, and housewares sold in the United States and Europe are produced by workers in the global South—Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America—...

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Chapter 7. Dickens Redux: Globalization and the Informal Economy

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pp. 118-127

All over the world poor women, children, and men eke out an existence as street vendors, home-based pieceworkers, domestic servants, gardeners,and sex workers. When you step off a tourist bus in the global South, street vendors selling their wares eagerly meet you. Street musicians serenade travelers waiting for the metro in Paris, Berlin, London, and Amsterdam....

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Chapter 8. The Liberated Economy

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pp. 128-144

Mainstream economists claim that their conceptual building blocks are objective, value-free, and scientific. We disagree; the fundamental categories of economic analysis are not neutral with respect to existing patterns of social subordination and power.1 The concepts of, for example, rational-exploitation, embody historically specific visions of normative masculinity,...


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pp. 145-166

Select Bibliography

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pp. 167-180


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pp. 181-193

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022311
E-ISBN-10: 0472022318
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472068432
Print-ISBN-10: 0472068431

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 10 tables, 7 charts
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Advances in Heterodox Economics