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Working Class through Gender
and Culture on the Global Assembly Line"
By: Carla Freeman
Pink Collar Workers - Workers who perform in the service industry i.e: waitress, retail, and etc..
“Carnal Economies: the Commodification of Food and Sex in Kathmandu”
By: Mark Liechty
Globalization and International Divisions of Labor
“Democratization” of expanding markets of goods and information
(intensification and expansion of capitalism)
Loss of “local” culture, distinctiveness and tradition
Capitalism and the commodification of life
The formation of the pink collar sector in Barbados is made possible by the insertion of informatics within the categories of manufacturing and service.
"Commodity Animism and the Spirit of Brand-Name Capitalism"
By: Anne Allison
This text considers how gender, race, and class are related to work and consumption.
Assembly lines concern more than just work, they also relate to identity, produce new categories/identities.
Changing nature of work- flexible accumulation, post-industrial, service based capitalism focus on production of identities, jobs become open to women, they become less socially prestigious, come to be seen as "feminine" jobs.
Women are en-powered by being in the workforce, even if the jobs don't pay very well, the status and identity keeps them going.
Changing economy impacts gender relations, identities, caste relations, class relations, consumption, commodities, and what is available for purchase.
Modern consumer capitalism produces isolated, privately-consuming individuals
Mono no katari no hitobito
Pathology of abundance
Mobile privatization/Electronic individualism
About larger cultural trends in commodifications in food and sex
Commodification - transforming goods
or ideas, that are not usually considered
goods, into salable things
Caste and Class
In Kathmandu, a newly-made urban middle class
Creates new cultural practices
Shift in cultural logic
Social transactions start to become more common in market economy
Food and Sex
"eating is essential to the survival of the individual, as sex is to the survival of the species" (Fieldhouse 1986:173)
Creates gender division
Food and sex = Cultural Danger and power
In Nepal, modern socioeconomic processes have shaped a new culture of commercial sex
Prostitution, drinking establishments, and commercial eating have come together to create new market.
Increased rapidly in Kathmandu because of new forms of public space
Prostitution became more popular because of new economy of sexual-body-commodity-fantasy in the free market
The old caste logic of sexual transgression has fallen away, but accepting water from an "impure" person is still defiling.
A restaurant is a place with a particular style and type of food, social milieu, and social function
Occurred in Kathmandu gradually in 1951 when first restaurants emerged
Street-level restaurants outside two or three high-priced hotels that catered specifically to local elites
Neat and clean, appealed to Western tourists
By early 1970s, Nepalis had set up their own restaurants catering to tourists
Wasn't just food, but places to see while you eat
By 1990s thousands of people ate at restaurants on a regular basis
Reasons why: Population growth, greater cash flow, new food availability, and more!
Many of the elder people of the high-caste did not approve of eating at restaurants
They ask: Who made the food? How was the food prepared? What are the ritual status implications of food?
Warned that eating in a restaurant is dangerous not only in terms of ritual pollution, but because food is also a conducive substance for transmission of other kinds of evil
Did not eat at restaurants because it would hurt their reputation
Conclusion: Recent transformations in
economic cultures of food and sex in
Food and sex, only a generation ago, had been almost exclusively private and domestic
Commodities such as food and sex unite in new ways. Such as meat, alcohol, and sex emerge as homologous male consumer pleasures
The meaning of consumption changes in the transformation from caste to class society
Issues around personal identity and material possessions
Psychiatrist Ohira Ken
Patients with minor complications involving coworkers/family members
Inept in communication
"A person who talks about things" (mono no katari no hitobito)
Increase in the 1990s
22 year old woman complaining about not getting along with coworker because her coworker didn't understand material goods
25 year old office worker could not afford a better suit
Woman described herself and all of Japan in terms of brand-name commodities
Mindset of mono no katari no hitobito
Elevating their place in the world with brand-name goods
Object directly correlate with happiness
Uncomfortable with this state of being
Seek a way to communicate
Mindset is becoming the norm
Mono no katari no hitobito history
Postwar reconstruction, material wealth was the "Japanese Dream"
Refrigerators, washing machines and color TVs
After the dream was realized a "pathology of abundance" developed
Symptoms: intimacy with goods coupled with a deficit in interpersonal closeness
1987 Study on Consumer Trends
Asked respondents to draw their "dream house"
Many sketched single rooms intended for one person
"fenced in paradise"
"autistic" except rooms were bright
Goods provide security
Sense of security, privacy, warmth
Walkmen, Game Boys, cellphones
Cute characters are appropriated as symbols for personal, corporate, group and national identity
it "glues society at its roots"
Characters relieve stress and also reflect the "inner self"
In what ways are we in the US "mono no katari no hitobito?" Have you ever had an experience in which you could not get along with someone due to their obsession over material goods?
In this region, whose colonial and post-colonial history is entirely permeated by transnational movements, both forced and voluntary,economic, political, and social,
1. How do imported images and goods, tied to notions of modernity and progress, come to be desired and imbued with value, localized in their uses and meanings, and expressive of cultural differences and histories?
2.What meanings (gendered and otherwise) do they come to have in people’s everyday lives?
Do you think that essential items (like water)
should be a commodity?
Barbados and the Caribbean: Situating Export Production and Transnationalism
1. thousands of Caribbean men and women to jobs in transportation, nursing, and domestic service in cities such as London, New York, and Toronto.
2.women’s ability to dictate their own work identities and practices without the interference or control by male kin places them in remarkably different circumstances than those of many of their Asian and Latin American sisters.
Consumption across “First” and “Third”Worlds
1. consumption is often presented as a novel phenomenon for people in the “developing” world when technology and media-hyped goods and symbols are involved.
EX: a dark-robed Bedouin woman drinking a Coke
2. the new anthropology of consumption and consumerism, regardless of perspective, includes a gendered dimension.
For Maria Mies (1986), the world economy is predicated on a system of capitalist patriarchy that incorporates women in strategic roles on both “sides” of the international divide: third world women as proletarianized producers and first world women as consumer “housewives.”
But Mies could not anticipate the significance of women’s increasingly simultaneous engagement in both production and consumption on both “sides” of the international division of labor.
Women and Production on the Global Assembly Line
1. local cultural traditions and, in particular, the meanings of gender influence the shape of transnational production in specific ways along the global assembly line.
the central role played by women in the expansion of transnational production, this work specifically aims to unpack the specific gender ideologies (local and global) that have, in complex and sometimes contradictory ways, conceived women as and in turn made them into “ideal” global workers.
EX: the relationship between matrifocal families and divisions of labor in the Afro-Caribbean
The "Pinking" of White Collar Services
The "information age" has transitioned US from manufacturing to service industries.
Moves the manufacturing industries to mainly "developing" countries such as Barbados.
Informatics industry in Barbados consists characteristics of both manufacturing and service industries.
With the rapid expansion of information processing and telecommunication; the onced heavy work (manly tasks) can be done easily with technologies (feminine tasks)
Feminine jobs - Lower skills, lower wages, lower prestige
Two Trends from the rise of information-based services:
1) Fewer people with lower level of skills
Results in : lower pay
2) Physical arrangement and geographical locations are decentralized
Meaning: oversea clerical locations
i.e: customer service support in Caribbeans
What does the trends mean for Caribbean female workers in this industry?
Stress from being supervised
Restrictions in learning new skills
Keeps them in the same work field
Reasons for off-shoring to Caribbeans:
Close proximity to US
Availability of cheap and short flights
Beaches & luxury hotels
Good public infrastructures
Pros & Cons:
Bajan Women in the Clerical Industry
Severance pay (< 2 yrs)
Maternity and sick leaves
Half the wage compared to U.S. workers
Stress from surveillance
Non-beneficial for future
Differences concerning gender & culture:
Women wants a stable paying job
Men sees it as a stepping stone to better jobs
Longer employment status in Barbados than Santo Domingo
US: Economic needs win over comfort, vice versa in Barbados
Labor Studies and the Culture of Production
Classes - Groups that emerge in the social structure from their relationships to production, distribution, and exchange
Workplaces are powerful in structuring socioeconomic status and identity
Information processing industry paves a new category of work, thus a new class
Production is importantly involved in determining the class and identity
Labor Studies and the Gender of Class
The work sectors that females are allowed to enter are most certainly "devalued" and "deskilled."
These jobs won't threaten men's authority
in instances of technological change and labor market restructuring .
Certain jobs are sex divided even when unconsciously
Clerical work are fit for women because:
Patience for repetitive work
Attention to details
Less pay than men
Social Magic : Cast women as women so to produce them as women
Though "pink" collar industry is seen as factorial work underneath professional attires, the Bajan women still accept it to be a status building opportunity regardless of how "staged" the actual status is. The women are only put into these sectors because it doesn't cause any potential harm to the men in actual authoritative positions. It's the misconceptions from the duties they do, the outfits they wear, and the environments they're in that create identities in which they believe is worthier of any other past labor.
Alan Pham Lelani Kalb
Shang Wang Selena Jiang
3. What or who classify feminine jobs as feminine? And masculine jobs as masculine?
Do you think that essential items (like water)
should be commodified?
3 Inseparable dimensions in work context
Economic Dimension: production of things
Political Dimension: production of social relations
Ideological Dimension: production of an experience of those relations