From the South to the North – Theoretical Insights on Gender and Work from Latin America

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Seminarsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Johanna NEUHAUSER, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS), Germany
Nico WEINMANN, Universität Kassel, Germany
Johanna SITTEL, Universität Jena, Germany
The paper draws on critical perspectives on the Sociology of Work that have pointed at the eurocentrism and male bias of labor studies. With the erosion of formal work during the current capitalist crisis, the structural similarities of labor markets in the Global North and the Global South have increased. Even tough social scientists from northern countries identify new trends of labor precarization and informalization, they disregard the existing research on similar processes in Latin America. Furthermore, labor studies reproduce androcentric perspectives by neglecting the sphere of social reproduction and the specific insertion of women into the labor market. In order to address these shortcomings, this paper introduces scientific knowledge from Latin America into academic debates centered in the Global North, by focusing on the nexus between gender and work. Therefore, three historical phases of knowledge production are identified: the first during the 1970s, when development theories dominated the Latin American academic discourse and feminist approaches emphasized the particular intersection of gender and class  in the structurally heterogeneous labor markets; the second, during the neoliberal era of the 1980s and 1990s, when scholars pointed out the “feminization of work/poverty”; the third, during the recent consolidation of post-neoliberal trends,  when studies focus on the extent to which gender inequalities on the labor market could be reduced by new state policies. Finally, the paper discusses the transferability of these analytical perspectives to other contexts and their theoretical insights for current debates in European labor and gender studies. It will be revealed that the analysis of labor and gender relations in Latin America can make important contributions to the reflection of the entanglement of different axes of inequality to the understanding of precarization during the European economic crisis and to a political perspective beyond structural adjustment and austerity programs.