Re-Regulating Reproductive Bargains
This paper proposes a framework integrating varieties of capitalism and transnational approaches with feminist theories of gender regimes. A road map of the varieties of capitalism literature charts conceptual building blocks for the comparative study of economic governance models and related labor regulations. Varieties of capitalism theories implicitly refer to work and social regulations designed for standard industrial work and a corresponding form of standard family life. As such, these theories neglect how gender relations are embedded in the way major institutions are organized, creating blind spots in their political-economic models. Without a systematic account of the gender dimensions of employment practices, institutions, and regulations, the varieties of capitalism approach cannot decipher the gendered patterns of nonstandard employment and its variation across countries. National variation in gendering of nonstandard employment becomes more intelligible with reference to what I call the varieties of reproductive bargains. A reproductive bargain constitutes embedded structures of social relations that contribute to the differential integration of women and men in the labor market. Discussing empirical trends across four advanced capitalist countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, typically paired in typologies, and then contextualizing specific country developments reveals a complex picture of the gendered character of nonstandard work in each country. I argue that the type, the density, and the interaction of labor and gender regulations over working time, both directly and indirectly, shape the conditions affecting the supply and demand for particular types of labor and the quality of these arrangements. An examination of the European Union and the International Labor Organization also suggests that supra-national institutions influence the transfer of regulatory norms. Yet, employment outcomes and workplace practices still largely depend on a country’s type of welfare state, coordination mechanisms of employment relations, and varieties of reproductive bargain.