Reconfiguring Class and Gender: Identities, Rights, and Social Movements

Kate Bedford
Political Science
"Political Entrepreneurs with Visions of Emancipatory Employment"
This project is an attempt to discover why getting women into employment emerged as a central concern of the World Bank. This project will chart the shift in Bank policy discourse from an emphasis on motherhood and child welfare to a focus on work, and explain it as an attempt at liberal feminist policy entrepreneurship. Employment had been framed as emancipatory by liberal feminists before it gained the attention of the Bank. It was thus easy to utilize in an institution whose internal culture privileged economics and which was embracing neo-liberalism. In this milieu employment emerged as a privileged site in which feminist staff could justify their concerns with gender. This project seeks to criticize this policy while remaining both fairly attentive to the constraints within which Bank democrats operate and justifiably cautious about dangers of aligning feminists attacks on compulsory employment with conservative opposition to women’s work.

 

Monica Bielski Michal
Labor Studies
"Sexual Identity at Work: Union Recognition of Sexual Diversity"

This project will explore the connections between sexual identity and socio-economic class through an examination of how labor unions within the U.S. recognize sexual diversity by adopting policies and practices to prohibit sexuality-based discrimination and to promote equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual union members. A comparison of the fifteen largest national unions’ responses to sexual diversity will be presented in order to determine that factors influencing how a union develops its sexuality policies and programs. In-depth, qualitative case studies of two unions with proactive responses to sexual diversity but different characteristics and demographics, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Auto Workers (UAW), will be conducted. Interviews with the union leaders and members will be utilized to determine the roles of leadership support and membership activism in the development of a response to sexual diversity issues. The research draws from theories dealing with the interactions between various social identities and the formation of agendas within social movements.

 

Averil Clarke
IRW Visiting Scholar
Sociology, University of Pennsylvania
"Faith to Move Mountains: The Role of Religious Identity and Self-Presentation in the Negotiation and Maintenance of Racial, Class, and Gender Barriers"

This project will investigate and describe the ways sexuality and specific sexual identities are used as both strategic tools in the manipulation of status hierarchies and instruments of domination in the maintenance of status hierarchies. It focuses on the social reproduction of racial, class, and gender hierarchies by the actions of religious institutions acting to influence the sexual behavior and sexuality of African American women and men and by the religiously contextualized actions and behaviors of African American men and women. The project is a scholarly attempt to gather the data to describe the ways individuals and groups negotiate the moral and symbolic elements of status hierarchies .

 

Lisa Clarke and elmira Nazombe
Center for Women's Global Leadership
"What do Race, Class and Age have to do with the Direction of the Women's Rights Movement?"

Throughout the history of the women’s human rights movement, there have been tensions among and between activists from the North and South. These tensions were very much in evidence during Global Center work around the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). The Global Center has always been committed to the building of a strong global women’s human rights movement which recognizes both the diversity of women as well as their commonalities. During WCAR the Global Center sought to promote the use of an intersectional methodology to give appropriate balance to both diversity and universality. We are interested in exploring how the interaction of class, race and age of the activists has effected the shaping of women’s human rights agenda(s) in the past and thinking about the implications of these differences for future work. We will also consider what benefits the intersectional methodology brings to this task. We hope to have the opportunity to reflect on both the theoretical underpinnings of our work and our own actions in advocacy contexts.

 

Laura Curran
Social Work
"Caring for Cold War Children: Child Protection, Family Poverty, and Professional Social Work in Mid-Century America (1946-1963)"

Through a primary source historical analysis of client case records and agency documents from the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, this project examines child protection services for low-income families accused of child neglect and/or abuse in early cold war (1946-1963) America. In doing so, this project asks larger theoretical and historical questions about the role of the welfare state and the social work profession in mediating class, gender, race, and age identities and hierarchies. It examines early cold war social work narratives alongside “client” responses to these professional constructions. Given the predominantly female gender composition of social workers and their adult clientele, this study is also an investigation of historical relationships between women of disparate class and race locations. This historical analysis will ultimately contribute to the discussion of contemporary questions concerning the intersections of gender and class identities in “top-down” social reform efforts.

 

Leela Fernandes
Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies
"The Invention of the New Indian Middle Class: Gender, Class and Culture in India, 1950-2000"

My research project examines the ways in which the meanings, inequalities and identities of class and gender are being reconfigured through the political invention of a new social category, the “new Indian middle class” in the context of contemporary globalization in India. The policies of economic liberalization which have been initiated in India in the 1990's have been accompanied by a set of public discourses which have increasingly begun to invent a new image of a globalizing Indian middle class. Drawing on ethnographic research on the urban middle class in Mumbai, my project examines both the gendered discursive invention of this “new middle class” and the economic and cultural effects of liberalization on this social group. First, the research thus contributes to an understanding of the shifting boundaries between class and gender in the context of a liberalizing economy through an analysis of the gendering of economics restructuring. Second, the project argues that the identity and interests of the urban middle class are articulated through a form of gendered cultural citizenship; the borders of this cultural citizenship are defined by an emphasis on the purity and distinctiveness of middle class culture. The boundaries of this cultural citizenship serve to distinguish the middle class from the working class and rural and urban poor and attempt to preserve the boundaries of middle class culture through the political management of women’s sexualities, bodies and social roles. The project examines such gendered processes and the possibilities of women’s responses and activism. On the one hand, for instance, the boundaries of cultural citizenship are produced through a set of gendered politics as responses to consumerism and the perceived threat of westernization merge with narratives of Hindu nationalism which have permeated local state policy. The purification of Indian culture in this case rests on chauvinistic discourses of ethnic and religious purity and patriarchal notions of appropriate roles for women. On the other hand, as the project demonstrates, immediate economic problems such as inflation hold the potential for cross-class based women’s activism through political activities such as anti-price rise agitations.

 

Carola Frege
School of Management and Labor Relations
"Practices, Theories and Methods in Industrial Relations and the Concept of Class: A Comparative Analysis"
The project compares the different disciplinary traditions of industrial relations in continental Europe and the US in an attempt to question the supposed ‘naturalness’ of social scientific research and to explore the relationship between institutional, contextual and intellectual aspects of the knowledge production in social sciences. In particular, the project highlights the continuing relevance of class analysis in the European research tradition of IR and its relative absence in the American context. This has repercussions on what topics are being discussed and in what ways, for example how issues of gender are being analyzed in relation to work. The project fosters an awareness of the social construction of social science research and thus of the concepts and interrelationship of class and gender.

 

Dee Garrison
History
"Untold Story: Women and the Fight Against Nuclear Power, 1958-82"
This study will address the massive antinuclear movement to prevent operation of power plants in the United States, with a special focus on the mass protest demonstrations of the 1970s. I will show how and why this campaign was chiefly organized by women, and I will examine both the interaction of class, race and gender in shaping movement goals and tactics, and the influence of social and political values as they change over time in the wake of Vietnam and Watergate. The burgeoning women’s movement of the era meshed with the new environmental consciousness and with the organizational struggle of racial and ethnic groups, to expand and strengthen the huge crusade against the dangers created by nuclear power plants. This project will also consider the important theoretical debates concerning the definition of “new social movements,” as well as the nature of “maternalist feminism.”

 

Blanche Grosswald
Social Work
"'Meaningful' Work and Family Outcomes: Gender and Class Differences"

This research project examines the impact of having a meaningful job on family, marital, and life satisfaction, investigating gender differences in how workers perceive “meaningful” jobs. “Meaningful” will be operationally defined to include criteria such as job autonomy, the employee’s interpretation of “meaningful” work, job security, and socioeconomic occupational class. The sample will be 2,429 workers from the Family and Work Institute’s 1997 longitudinal National Study of the Changing Workforce. Multiple and logistic regressions will be used to assess the impact of several independent job attributes on family outcomes. The study case would build a composite index based on data indicating the degree to which participants experience their jobs as “meaningful.” Gender and socioeconomic class would be treated as both control and interacting variables. Policy implications may involve setting minimum standards for offering “meaningful” work, similar to existing minimum wage laws.

 

Dorothy Hodgson
Anthropology
"Organizing for Change: Forms of Collective Action Among African Women"

My project explores six kinds of associations (religious, environmental, academic/research, cultural, human rights and indigenous rights) created by African women in Tanzania and Senegal in order to analyze “from the bottom up” how women have organized themselves; identify the issues they debate and promote; describe their economic, political and social demands; and explore how their efforts have been supported or constrained by the transnational networking, training and resources provided by Euro-American donors, NGOs and others. For each association, I examine their agendas, and analyze how they either produce or transcend the diverse social positions of their constituents. My purpose is to contribute to the demands of African women to advance their own agendas by illuminating their perspectives on development, empowerment and social change and the variety of forms of collective action through which they transform these demands into realties. The project will inform broader studies of gender, social movements, collective action and power.

 

Eun Kyung Kim
IRW Visiting Scholar
Political Science, Yonsei University, Korea; Fulbright Fellow
"Women and Development: Influence of Policy on Women"

This study aims at analyzing how the feminists in the United States have influenced the formation of the globalization policy which the U.S. has been promoting and how the impact of globalization has worked on women in the U.S. The goal of this study is to discover what globalization means to women. It is expected by the feminists that the feminization of poverty would be aggravated as one of the negative effects of globalization. The contents of this study are related to the position of feminists in the U.S. in the decision-making process of globalization: first, whether feminists in the U.S. are oriented to be women-friendly (if there are some perspectives of gender mainstreaming or gender sensitivity). Second, whether they have considered the impact of policy on various groups in the U.S. (if there are some conflicts among women of different races, ethnicities, classes, etc.). Third, whether they have expected the effect of globalization outside the U.S. (if they care about women in developing countries, such as Asian or third world countries). If they have not pressured the decision-making process of globalization, I will also discover the reasons and the position on their expected results.

 

Kathryn Kluegel
Anthropology
"Modeling Gender: Working as a Fashion Model in Milan"

This project will provide an ethnographic portrait of the ways in which working as a fashion model is gendered within the social context of Milan. To do so, I will examine industry-wide work requirements and benefits; the social, symbolic and economic import of models to Milan; and, importantly, how models themselves experience working in Milan. I argue that social and cultural constructions of "symbolic capital" (Bourdieu 1977)—strategic aesthetic cultivations of social distinction—drive the fashion and fashion modeling industries, fuel the local economy, and shape the social experiences and subjective impacts of working as a model.

 

elmira Nazombe and Lisa Clarke
Center for Women's Global Leadership
"What do Race, Class and Age have to do with the Direction of the Women's Human Rights Movement?"
Throughout the history of the women’s human rights movement, there have been tensions among and between activists from the North and South. These tensions were very much in evidence during Global Center work around the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR). The Global Center has always been committed to the building of a strong global women’s human rights movement which recognizes both the diversity of women as well as their commonalities. During WCAR the Global Center sought to promote the use of an intersectional methodology to give appropriate balance to both diversity and universality. We are interested in exploring how the interaction of class, race and age of the activists has effected the shaping of women’s human rights agenda(s) in the past and thinking about the implications of these differences for future work. We will also consider what benefits the intersectional methodology brings to this task. We hope to have the opportunity to reflect on both the theoretical underpinnings of our work and our own actions in advocacy contexts.

 

 

Corinne Post
Organization Management
"The Allocation of Favorable Work Practices in Industrial R & D: the Role of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, Family Structure Characteristics, and Organizational Setting"

Understanding why some scientist and engineers perform better than others has motivated many researchers. One body of work emphasizes how education, work experience, skills, and training boost performance. This approach provides just a partial explanation for performance disparities. For example, in samples of women and men matched for their education and experience, women are in less-prestigious positions, less likely to advance, and less well-paid than the men. Another body of work emphasizes contextual explanations, which articulate the role context in which engineers and scientists operate. Specifically, an important study by Pelz and Andrews (1976) provides the foundation for most research on the contexts and career opportunities that lead to higher performance. Given the difficulties that women and minorities face in advancing and succeeding in engineering in science, this project seeks to assess the impact of unequal access to favorable work practices--based on gender, race/ethnicity, and family structure—for scientist and engineers’ innovation, promotability, and value to their organization.

 

Elmira Shishkaraeva
IRW Visiting Scholar
Soros Foundation–Kyrgyzstan; IREX Fellow
"Women's Memories. Socio-Political History of Kyrgyzstan (1941-1991)"

The project will explore some similarities between U.S. and Kyrgyz women during the same time period of social change with the goal of providing recommendations on how to improve the social, political and economic status of women in Kyrgyzstan through non-governmental channels. In my research I will use the oral history methodology, i.e. interviews will be the basic primary source of information. The focus groups of the research are women 65-75 years of age. I plan to analyze the collected interviews, archive materials and monographs of other researchers of the given period using the non-traditional approach of oral history methodology, as this method was not applied by social anthropology and folklore studies in Soviet historical science. The importance of my research is that it will attempt to reinterpret historical processes of the given period from the gender perspective in contrast to existing histories which ignore gender offences.

 

Julie Whittaker
Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy
"The Impact of Advanced High School Mathematics Courses on Girls' Labor Force Attachment and Future Earnings"

The channeling of female and minority students out of the ‘math’ track has been a national educational and training policy concern for many years. My project proposes to analyze enrollment in mathematics classes and the impact the courses have on labor market participation and earning for female and minority students. I will address the impact of mathematics courses on cognitive skill acquisition of a college degree. I will analyze how completing mathematics classes alter perceptions of the future educational and labor market choices. All analyses will examine the roles of race and class. These results will then be used to attempt to understand how public policy could target girls and minority students in order for them to benefit from the positive aspects of increased participation in intermediate and advanced mathematics courses. This study has important economic, sociological, and policy implications for national education reform as well as global implications in the struggle to improve the employment and life prospects of girls and women.

 

Zhang Xiao
IRW Visiting Scholar
Guizhou Social Science Academy, China; Ford Foundation Fellow
"Gender and the Globalization of Miao Minority Women"

The Miao are an internationally dispersed ethnic group. There are more than 7 million Miao in China, and around 10 million in the world. There are also several hundred thousand Miao in the U.S. They moved in the last two hundred years from China to Southeast Asia and since 1975 have moved again from Southeast Asia to the U.S. and other Western countries. In moving from Southeast Asia to the U.S., the Miao--usually referred to as "Hmong" outside China--made a rapid transition from a traditional agricultural economy to a heavily industrialized country, from peasant agriculture work to urban labor and joblessness, with inevitable problems in cultural readjustment. What happened to them in the processes of both preserving traditions and adjusting to modern societies? I want to look at this question especially in terms of gender. How are the gender relations of Miao in the East different from those of the Miao in the West? How do the gender relations of the Miao in the U.S. compare to other groups in the U.S.? How do these differences affect the lives of Miao women.

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