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GlobalisationGenderedPolitics

GlobalisationGenderedPolitics - CHAPTER 13 Globalisation...

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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 13 Globalisation and the Gendered Politics of Citizenship fan find); Petfman This chapter aims to bring critical globalisation literature into productive conjunction with feminist critiques of the gendered impact of globalisation; and to ask whether feminist notions of citizenship can be utilised to think about, and organise in, these globalising limes. Feminist critique and politics have revealed that citizenship, both as a status and as a basis for claim, has historically been problematic for women and for men outside dominant groups. Now, in the wake of intensifying globalisation, state transformations and rising exclusivist identity politics, citizenship needs to be rethought as a possible tool for feminist use Within a global frame. Citizenship constructs a public status and identity -— long presumed to be male — that rests in ambiguous ways on the private support world of famiiy, home and Women. It has always been a difficult construction for women, much debated in feminist literature and conferences Cones 1993; Phillips 1993; Eisenstein 1993). But it be: provided spaces for feminist politics. While first—Wave feminists and anti-colonial nationalist women struggled for suffrage and legal rights Gayawardena 1986), later movements used formal citizenship rights as a platform to actualise rights promised to them as citizens. Debates around formal citizenship enabled feminists to expose the contradiction between states’ constitutional declarations of equal citizenship and treatment of women as the possessions of their husbands or com- munities, relegated to the ambiguous space of personal law, for example. These debates also demonstrated that women’s and men’s memberships of other collectivities, including racialised, ethnic, religious and sexual minori- ties, continue to affect their access to and experience of citizenship (Yuval- Davis 1991). Citizenship claims are most often made against ‘the state’. Indeed, one way of understanding citizenship is to define it as a person's (or individual’s) relationship with their state. But the state has always been an ambiguous and difficult issue in feminist politics. Feminists have revealed gendnrd States, and it seems that state consolidation projects, earlier in Western and more recentiy in Third World states, frequently reinforced masculinist power (Afshar 1987-; 207 208 FEMINIST CITIZENSHIPS IN A GLOBAL ECUMENE Peterson 1992; Rai and Lievesley 1996). Feminists continue to debate the possibility of a woman-friendly state, and note the irony of appealing to a masculinist state for protection from, for example, male violence (Jones 1993; Brown 1996). Yet feminists continue to address all kinds of claims towards the state, and articulate these claims in terms of women’s formal citizenship and social rights. And while many feminists are ambivalent about approaching the state, the state that feminists address is itself changing dramatically (Leech 1994). In recent decades, intensifying globalisation pro- cesses have been accompanied by a transformation of states, which have, willingly or unwillingly, disowned many obligations to their citizens. Might we be looking to sites of state which are now vacated, or fundamentally changed, as a consequence of globalisation processes? To devise effective feminist politics, then, we need to ask where power is located these days (Peterson 1995). Fears of global power and its blatant unaccountability underlie some feminist attempts to reclaim the state, and citizenship, as still difficult, but more accessible than global power. What possibility is there to argue for an inclusive state-based rights collectivity which extends to all those resident in it? What do we make of citizenship when we shift our focus beyond state boundaries, in a search for trans— national and transformative feminist alliances? Globalisation ‘Globalisation’ is a shorthand for many different and often contradictory shifts in relations of power, wealth and identity (Mittelman 1996). A helpful dislinction is between globalisation as process and as ideology. As process, it refers to transformations in relations between politics and economics, capital and labour, states and markets, and international and state (‘domestic’) politics (Scholte 1996; Tooze 1997). These transformations were ushered in by the rising fortunes of East Asian states, the floating of the US dollar in the 19705, the oil shocks as OPEC states flexed their muscles, and the steady growth in indebtedness of many Third World states, which allowed increasing intervention by international financial institutions. The transformations were accelerated by developments in technology and communications, enabling instantaneous and deterritorialised organisation and decision making. They were effectively universalised in 1989, with the collapse of state socialism as a practised or imagined alternative to capitalism. There is much in contemporary globalisation literature detailing deregula- tion of trade, finance and banking, and the remarkable growth in ‘the “Symbol” economy of capital movement, exchange rates and credit flows’ (Tooze 199?: 224). Financial transactions now massively outpace trade in gOOdS and services. A key feature is ‘quicksilver capital’ (Douglas 1996) — the hYPmObility 0f capitaL Transnational production is increasingly spread over different sites and states, and new corporate management strategies now GLOBALISATION AND CITIZENSHIP 209 instantaneously link different parts of the globe, independently of state boundaries and agents. Whereas the twentieth century has witnessed a growing density of inter— national relations (meaning between states), many of the new transactions or relations bypass states or cross borders beyond state control. Time, place and space are all reconfigured. National economies deregulate and liberalise trade and investment. It is not so much that there is a free market; rather ‘almost every aspect of national economic activity is now subject to international supervision’ (T ooze 1997: 225). It is increasingly difficult to demarcate boundaries between the international and the national. Almost nothing is simply ‘domestic’ anymore: the globalised market impacts on individuals as well as states. Feminist politics, too, must be played out in the increasingly contradictory spaces between the supposedly still sovereign ‘nation—state’ and the powerfully generative global ‘system’. There is considerable dispute in the literature concerning the extent and nature of globalisation, including between ‘hyperglobalists’ who perceive globalisation as a massive, irresistible force which will result in homogenisa— tion, McDonaldisation or the total integration of the world into a single hierarchically organised set of domination—subordination relations; and the ‘globalisation sceptics’, who argue the continuing significance of national and international economy, and note the rise in regionalism rather than giobalism (Perraton at al. 1997). Clearly, though, globalisation is not a uniform, unilineat or inevitable process. It impacts unequally and differentially on different regions, classes and people. Iris currently marked by growing disparities of wealth within and between states. Power and wealth are concentrated among the ‘tciad’ of North Ametica, Western Europe and East Asia (Cox 1996). Within these states, too, many experience increasing poverty and reduction of (already inadequate, or conditional) social welfare. Many of those most severely affected are women, including women who are racialised, migran- tised and/ or without access to fonnal citizenship. In the process, class becomes an increasingly transnational phenomenon: a tiered hierarchy of new transnational elites, middle classes who service or are rewarded by global servicing, and a vast transnational underclass. While no region or state can escape the impact of the capitalist world market, whole states and regions, notably in Africa, are bypassed, except as suppliers of raw materials or of migrant labour for the rich states and regions. In these new configurations of power, we might expect class to have become a more powerful — rather than, as appears, a less effective — basis for mobilising. So we need to ask what class means in view of the changing global division of labour — and, more particularly, what class means to feminists — these days. An effect of globalisation as ideology is to naturalise the process, to impure magical qualities to ‘the market’ (Hamilton 1997: 25), to depoliticisc and so distract from the myriad political and economic decisions and practices that propel it. Economic rationalism or neoliberalism is the carrying 210 FEMINIST CITIZENSHIPS IN A GLOBAL ECUMENE card of the current phase of globalisation. Shifts in the nature and location of power generate a new political geography, within which transnational companies, international financial institutions and some state elites are now major players. Globalisation as ideology reminds us of the politics, power relations and material interests that underpin the process. Globalisation as process reminds us that globalisation is always in process, is still becoming: and that it is a contradictory and contested process. Critical globalisation literature stresses the importance of recovering agency — and sometimes class — as spaces for resistance to globalisation (Mittelman 1996; New Political Eventing 1997). Much of this literature makes reference to but does not pursue as central the gendered effects of globalisation, and only hints at or rollscalls women’s movements or feminism as resistance. Bringing these writings into productive conjunction with feminist critiques which document the gendered effects of globalisation (Afshar and Dennis 1992; Bakker 1994; Peterson 1995; Kofman and Youngs 1996) can generate Strategies that politicise, denaturalise and gender globalisation — rather as feminist critiques politicised, denaturalised and gendered ‘the private’ in previous and ongoing struggles. Transforming States Globalisation signals the transformation of the state, to the point where it now plays a near-universal role as local manager or facilitator for global capital. Many political leaders are either unable or unwilling to direct the national economy, or to abide by the national social contract which guided different states in the postwar years. Samir Amin (1996) notes that the ‘three ways’ of this contract — Keynesian managed capital with its safety net, Sovietism with its worker citizen, and the Bandung or national development state — all assumed some state responsibility for economy and society. Western states have now begun to re—privatise those responsibilities which worker and women’s struggles had exacted. The collapse of European state socialism means ‘the market’ rules. In the residual Third World, post— developmentalism (McMichael 1996) flourishes in debt-ridden states, now dominated by international financial institutions, conditionality and structural adjustment policies. Even states still formally Communist like China and Vietnam have opened their economy to ‘the market’. States appear to have lost crucial aspects of their sovereignty. It is a mistake, however, to imagine states as yet another victim of globalisation. Particular state elites in the West/ North (Reagan’s US, Thatcher’s Britain, now Howard’s Australia, for example) embraced neoliberalisrn with glee, and others too became active agents in their own state’s transformation (Cemy 1996). Some states, especially in East and Southeast Asia, historically welcomed integration into the global economy while simultaneously attempt- ing to maintain control over the direction of national economies, leading to - Li_*w if ‘ Women. And they are profoundly gendered in their consequences. GLOBALISATION AND CITIZENSHIP 211 capitalism, or at least to state or regional variants (Cox 1996: 28; Dirlik 1997). The futility of these attempts only became clear in the late 19905. Thus today neoliberalism takes a somewhat different form in different states East and Southeast Asian states embraced growth and ‘the market’, but in more authoritarian or interventionist ways than their Western counterparts. They were held up as models of growth, until the sudden and unexpected ‘Asian ctisis’ spread, from mid-1997. Ideas about cultural difference and Asian values, until recently deployed to explain success, were rapidly mobilised to explain failure,l allegedly caused by distortions and the feeding of ‘crony capitalism’. The crisis in a number of Asian economies was triggered by the devalua- tion of the Thai baht in July 1997, followed by currency crash through most Southeast Asian states. Capital flight from the region was accelerated by harsh IMF intervention, which had the effect of spreading a sense of panic, along with bank and company failures and rapidly rising unemployment (Bello 1998). Indonesia was the most severely affected: there the crisis wiped out: three decades of growth, reducing some 17 million families to poverty and threatened starvation {Canberra Timer, 15 September 1998). The dislocations generated political unrest which saw the overthrow of the Suharto regime and rioting, including rape, in which the primary targets were ethnic Chinese. The crisis demonstrated the power that resides in the EMF and other financial managers of global capital; it also confirmed that scapegoats will be found, most likely those who are perceived as not really belonging within the state, even if their families have been citizens for generations. While states appear to be giving up on aspects of their sovereignty, or having these taken away from them, they are simultaneously charged with implementing those very policies that facilitate openness and competition, and are approved of by international capital and its managers. They must also manage internal dissent and contain the pain, for ‘pOlitical instability’ will also frighten off investors, and risk further disciplining from the outside. Across the globe, the lure of neoliberal ideology and the power of globalising interests mean that states seek to facilitate the best fit possible with the global market, becoming more open and cutting back on ‘unproductive social cxpendimre’ _ precisely those sites and roles of state that were pushed and prodded into action by feminist mobilisation. While interrogating globalisation and state transformation of course requires specificity — Which state? Which women or men within that state? - there is a global trend towards a redefinition of political economy, away from a nationustate base. This trend is characterised by a renegotiation Of relations between state and society, as, often, the latter becomes more Economy than society; a shift in language from social rights to competition, Productivity, and efficiency; and a shift from public to private and from _50Cl3-l to family or individual responsibility. These changes dramatically tritium the political space for citizenship or social rights, including lights for 212 FEMINIST CITIZENSHIPS IN A GLOBAL ECUMENE Gendered Transformations Intensifying globalisation processes and state transformations are highly gendered - in part because women were already positioned in relation to the state, citizenship and the labour market differently from men (though different women are, of course, differently positioned, too; Penman 1996). Women are especially hard-hit when the state reduces, or withdraws from, or charges for, social support. Women are disproportionately represented among state workers in those areas most under attack, like health and education. The withdrawal of food subsidies and focus on production for export rather than subsistence or local consumption generate a massive crisis in reproduction, where the conditions necessary for sustaining everyday living are unavailable to so many (Afshar and Dennis 1992). Women in their domestic and reproductive roles must compensate for state retreat, or for state failure to provide social infrastructure and support. In many states, too, girl children are more likely to lose chances and choices as education, for example, becomes much more expensive. Feminist critics of citizenship have long argued that active citizenship requires material conditions which support and enable women’s participation in the public/ political sphere. In recent decades, feminists have publicised private lives and family secrets, challenging the public/ private boundary line in the process (though the boundary takes different forms in different states, Kandiyoti 1991). They have insisted on expanded notions of the political. Feminist activism in very different forms and places convinced states to assume some responsibility for women’s safety or interest, though often with conditions of heightened surveillance or dependence. But even where resources or choices were conceded, they were never beyond question. Now hard—won feminist gains are under renewed attack almost everywhere, under the impact of neoliberalist state ideologies. This is especially marked in formerly state socialist countries, and in states where fimdamentalist move- ments dominate or influence the state, but it is painfiilly evident, too, in Western states. Global deregulation and restructuring reprivatise tasks and spaces (Brodie 1994). These forces push women figuratively and sometimes physically back ‘home’, even though some one third of households do not have a male breadwinner, and more women than ever before officially work outside the home. Alongside this ‘return’ of women to their presumed place as wives, mothers and carers of citizens, and reduced state attention to their needs, another kind of privatisation — marketising — further undermines women’s gains and claims. These shifts accompany the growing dis—organisation of labour, and a ‘new mythology’ which identifies private power with personal freedom (Wilkin 1996: 227). States appear to be seeking a new kind of citizen, a consumer whose roles and expectations fit better with global capital and state transformation (Chin and Mittelman 1997: 29). GLOBALISATION AND CITIZENSHIP 213 Women as workers have long been caught between their productive and reproductive roles, in ways that disadvantage them in the labour market. That market is segmented along lines of nationality, mce/ethlucity, gender and often age, as well as class. International processes, including colonisation and migration, have informed these divisions within states. Now globalisation compounds these dis/connections, and makes access or not to citizenship a crucial determination of difference. And globalisation of the labour force makes it more likely that workers must negotiate state borders and join transnational flows in search of work. Gender and the Global Division of Labour The changing global division of labour is marked by a predominantly male core of skilled workers, and a vast global assembly line of casualised, feminised labour (Miner 1986). Transnational corporations (INCs) are ‘on the global prowl’ for cheap labour, or more accurately for ‘labour made cheap’ (Enloe 1992). The vast majority of workers in export processing zones (EPZS) are young women. Women in First and Third Wands (though often women from the Third in the First) work in fleidbilised, low-paid, risky conditions, in factories and sweatshops and outwor‘k. They have becom'erpart of a globalised feminised working class. Maria Nfies uses this to argue against ‘the limited view of cultural relativism which claims that women are divided by culture worldwide, whereas, in fact, they are bod} divided and connected by commodity relations’ (1986: 3), by their positioning within the giobal economy. Women’s labour has long been cheapened through ideologies of femi- ninity. Women’s work is seen as temporary, filling in before marriage; as supplementary, as if only men are family providers; and natural, as women are expected [0 have...
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