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The Gender and Labor of Globalization

Clara Freeman
Emory University, 2014
Level: beginner
Perspectives: Feminist Economics, Other
Topic: Globalization & International Economic Relations, Labour & Care, Race & Gender
Format: Course description/syllabus

This syllabus was originally taught in Spring 2014
Instructor: Carla Freeman 

Course Objective:

The world of work today is changing at a rate that produces both anxiety and optimism. In the US it is commonly reported that the average American will change not only jobs but careers 7 times in their lifetime. While labor market figures are in flux, there is no question about the general trends: the landscape of work is changing. A key aspect of these transformations is the nature of the global economy today, the degree to which our society is intricately embedded within global networks of capital, labor, and new electronic modes of communication.

Globalization is a term used to describe everything from the world-wide spread of American fast food and eating disorders, to the outsourcing of factory work and service jobs from the US to Mexico, China, and India. Circuits of globalization move in all directions, and the effects are felt in all areas of life, from the public realms of work and citizenship to the most private dimensions of our personal lives. Every day our news media remind us of the inter-connectedness of the globe, whether in the form of popular music, the Olympics, the economic recession, the spread of infectious disease, debates about immigration, etc.

In this seminar we will examine some of the “labors of globalization”--the work and lives of ordinary people whose labor can be seen as anchoring the very systems of globalization itself. Labor offers a critical lens on contemporary globalization, as we will study not only how commodities and services are produced along a global assembly line, but how certain corporate and state prescriptions for ideal global workers actively shape and discipline peoples bodies and senses of “self” as actors on a global stage. We will explore the many different forms of labor behind global production and the gender and class dimensions of these interconnected processes: physical, emotional, aesthetic, “blue collar” “white collar” and “pink collar,” paid as well as unpaid. Texts will include ethnographic case studies and films focusing on factory production, customer service operators, migration, tourism, consumption, sex-work and care-work. 

Course Outline:

  1. Intro to the course and to each other
  2. Identifying the parameters of globalization
  3. Foregrounding Gender, Globalization and Location
  4. Global Circulations of Gendered Labor
  5. Globalization, Migration, and the Care Chain
  6. Globalization and the Commodification of Domestic Labor
  7. Global Outsourcing and White/Pink Collar Services
  8. Authenticity Work and the Transnational Service Economy
  9. Globalization, Gender and Labor : Where are we now?

 

Download syllabus here

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Comment from our editors:

This syllabus is part of the Syllabi collection on International Association for Feminist Economics. This course is suitable for undergraduate students.

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