Globalization, the Feminization of Labor,
and Women’s Resistance:
Convergence and Divergence
in the Global North and the Global South
Globalization is considered to be one of the most important forces of change in contemporary society, ushering in greater integration and interdependency within countries and facilitating the unprecedented expansion of the global economy. However, globalization also creates uneven outcomes and widens the gap between the global North and South. A key-defining feature of globalization is the restructuring of production, made contingent by the increased competition between firms and corporations. The global restructuring process of production has a ...view middle of the document...
Deindustrialization and the feminization of work in the global North
Globalization has usually been depicted to be a positive force for developing countries, who are among the staunchest defenders of the neoliberal economic order. On the one hand, the global liberalization of markets enables the “inevitable leap into friction-free flows of commodities, capital, corporations, communication, and consumers all over the world,” (Nagar, et. al., 2002, p. 260) which benefits both the producers and consumers of products and services through the increased availability of cheaper products and the convenience and choice created by faster transactions and new distribution channels. Likewise, globalization encourages firm efficiency by exposing it to new competitors while lowering barriers to entry in many industries, resulting in the rapid expansion of industries and positive outcomes for the economy. Lastly, globalization creates new and widespread opportunities for labor and education through the increased importance of information and technology in the economy. On the other hand, globalization also has several trade-offs for rich countries especially in labor relations and employment. Mills, et. al. (2008, p. 562) observe, for instance, that “the promises of globalization… appear to be accompanied by painful adjustment consequences” in the form of the erosion of the welfare state, “decreasing job security and increasing job mobility and job hopping,” which indicate the rapid transformation of internal labor markets within advanced industrial nations due to globalization.
The changing nature of labor markets in developed countries has severe repercussions particularly for women, who have traditionally been more affected by changes in labor market demand due to gendered conceptions of the social division of labor. Results from a study conducted by Kalmijn and Luijkx (2006, p. 85) on the effect of globalization on women’s employment in the Netherlands reveal, for instance, that “women’s careers are changing back to the traditional female pattern” that was predominant in pre-modern times, when women usually had “precarious and discontinuous careers.” Whereas women experienced a relative levelling of employment and career opportunities vis-à-vis men during the era of modernization, women experienced significant shifts in terms of labor force requirements under globalization, such as the demand shift from low-skilled, low-education workforce to high-skill, high-education labor (Mills, et. al., 2008, p. 571). Underlying the shifting patterns in women’s employment and labor market participation in developed countries was the increasing emphasis on labor flexibility by companies (Kalmijn and Luijkx, 2006, p. 85), the decline in agricultural and manufacturing employment and the growth of service sectors (Korpi and Stern, 2006, p. 121), and the renewed focus on streamlining and rationalizing production processes through emergent technologies (Mills, et....