Broadening the scope: Gender and international economic development

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The central claim of this essay is that gender is a key term for understanding economic development insofar as it reveals fundamental aspects in the organization of production and labor. Following a cursory review of influential approaches to development and their relationship to the parallel theorization of gender, I compare two recent modalities of industrial restructuring: the expansion of export-processing plants (maquiladoras) along the U.S.-Mexico border and the survival strategies of electronics firms in Southern California. My theoretical focus is on the specification of gender as a process that allows for the maintenance of a substratum of labor, predominantly female, outside of market exchanges. That labor is recurrently tapped by employers seeking competitive edges in domestic and international markets. The same mechanism enables the replication of patterns of unequal exchange through the articulation of two interdependent models of production - one domestic and one market oriented - by which capitalist accumulation is fulfilled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)611-635
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


  • development
  • gender
  • industrial restructuring


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