crisis, austerity and gendered governance: a feminist perspective
Feminist scholars have been highly attentive to the ways that crises have become an everyday technique of global governance. They are particularly sensitive to the mechanisms through which ‘crisis management’ entrenches the power of particular economic orders and constrains the possibilities, and space, for contestation and critique. This paper seeks to contribute to but also to extend existing feminist research on financial crisis by arguing that, over the course of what has commonly been labelled the ‘global financial crisis’, the emergence of ‘crisis governance feminism’ has enabled existing structures and mechanisms of gendered privilege, such as the global financial industry, to suppress calls for their overhaul and to re-entrench their power in the global political economy. Adopting a discursive approach to gender and governance that situates gender centrally in understanding governance discourses and their reproduction of common sense (about what people do, how they labour, where they invest and so on), this paper argues that the governance of crisis in the contemporary era, in particular the various actors, institutions, policies and ideas that have sought to describe and ‘contain’ the global financial crisis, are gendered. Gender has become, in the contemporary global political economy, a technique of governance, and with deleterious effects. Despite inciting more discussion of ‘gender’ in economic systems than ever before (particularly in terms of discussions of ‘economic competitiveness’), this paper argues that the ‘global financial crisis’ has precipitated and continues to reproduce techniques of governance that trivialise feminist concerns while further embedding a masculinised, white and elitist culture of global financial privilege.
Keywordscrisis feminism finance gender masculinism austerity
This paper draws on research that has received financial support from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Australia. The author would like to thank the special issue editors and, in particular, the anonymous reviewers of this paper for their insightful, careful and invaluable reading of and comments on the original submission.
- Al-Khatib, T. (2010) ‘Is the “Mancession” real?’ Discovery News, 11 January, http://news.discovery.com/human/is-the-mancession-real.html, last accessed June 2010.
- Bedford, K. and Rai, S.M. (2013) ‘Feminists theorize international political economy’ E-International Relations, http://www.e-ir.info/2013/03/30/feminists-theorize-international-political-economy/, last accessed December 2013.
- Benería, L. (2003) Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as If All People Mattered, London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Bumiller, K. (2008) In an Abusive State: How Neoliberalism Appropriated the Feminist Movement, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
- Buvinic, M., Sabarwal, S. and Sinha, N. (2009) ‘The global financial crisis: assessing vulnerability for women and children’, Policy Brief Prepared for the World Bank, March, http://www.worldbank.org/financialcrisis/pdf/Women-Children-Vulnerability-March09.pdf, last accessed June 2010.
- Chrabolowsky, L. (2003) ‘Engendering trade unions and social movements: new proposals of social inclusion in Argentina’, paper presented at ‘Women and Unions: Still the Most Difficult Revolution' conference, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, 21–23 November 2003, https://www.ilr.cornell.edu/aliceCook100th/downloads/Engendering%20Trade%20Unions%20and%20Social%20Movements.pdf, last accessed December 2013.
- Cook, N. (2009) ‘What mancession?’ Newsweek, 16 July, http://www.newsweek.com/2009/07/15/what-mancession.html, last accessed June 2010.
- De Cicco, G. (2011) ‘Reflections ten years after the Argentinean economic crisis Of December 2001’ Association for Women’s Rights and Development (AWID), 16 December, http://awid.org/News-Analysis/Friday-Files/Reflections-Ten-Years-after-the-Argentinean-Economic-Crisis-of-December-2001, last accessed December 2013.
- Deen, T. (2013) ‘Q&A: Women hardest hit by growing austerity measures’ Inter Press Service (IPS) News Agency, 10 June, http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/06/qa-women-hardest-hit-by-growing-new-austerity-measures/, last accessed December 2013.
- Elson, D. (2012) ‘Women are paying the price for economic austerity’ The Conversation, 11 October, http://theconversation.com/women-are-paying-the-price-for-economic-austerity-9139, last accessed December 2013.
- Enloe, C. (2013) Seriously! Investigating Crises and Crashes as if Women Mattered, Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Floro, M.S. (1994) ‘The dynamics of economic change and gender roles: export cropping in the Philippines’ in Sparr, P. (1994) editor, Mortgaging Women’s Lives: Feminist Critiques of Structural Adjustment, London: Zed Books, 116–133.Google Scholar
- Floro, M.S., Tornqvist, A. and Tas, E.O. (2009) ‘The impact of the economic crisis on women’s economic empowerment’ Swedish International Development Agency Working Paper Series, December, http://www.american.edu/cas/economics/pdf/upload/2009-26.pdf, last accessed December 2013.
- Fogg, A. (2013) ‘Don’t give me this “If Lehman Sisters had been in charge …” nonsense’ The Guardian, 17 September, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/17/dont-give-me-lehman-brothers-sisters-nonsense, last accessed December 2013.
- Fraser, N. (2013) ‘How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden, and how to reclaim it’ The Guardian (UK), 14 October, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/feminism-capitalist-handmaiden-neoliberal, last accessed December 2013.
- Griffin, P. (2010b) ‘The gendered global political economy’ in Denemark, R. (2010) editor, The International Studies Association Compendium, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2631–2650.Google Scholar
- Griffin, P. (2015) ‘Gender, finance and embodiments of crisis’ in Hozic, A. and True, J. (2015-forthcoming) editors, Scandalous Economics: The Spectre of Gender and Global Financial Crisis, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Halley, J. (2006) Split Decisions: How and Why to Take a Break from Feminism, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Hatem, M.F. (1994) ‘Privatization and the demise of state feminism in Egypt’ in Sparr, P. (1994) editor, Mortgaging Women’s Lives: Feminist Critiques of Structural Adjustment, London: Zed Books, 40–60.Google Scholar
- Hobson, J.M. and Seabrooke, L. (2007) Everyday Politics of the World Economy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) (2011) ‘The Independent Commission on Banking final report’, September, http://www.herbertsmithfreehills.com/-/media/HS/L-130911-14.pdf, last accessed December 2013.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) (1998) ‘Financial crises: causes and indicators’ World Economic Outlook, May, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/weo0598/, last accessed December 2013.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2013) ‘Factsheet: Asia and the IMF’, 7 October, http://www.imf.org/external/np/exr/facts/asia.htm, last accessed December 2013.
- Ling, L.M. (2004) ‘Cultural chauvinism and the liberal international order: “West versus Rest” in Asia’s financial crisis’ in Chowdhry, G. and Nair, S. (2004) editors, Power, Postcolonialism and International Relations, London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Lite, J. (2008) ‘Is testosterone to blame for the financial crisis?’ Scientific American News Blog, 30 September, http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post/is-testosterone-to-blame-for-the-fi-2008-09-30/?id=is-testosterone-to-blame-for-the-fi-2008-09-30, last accessed November 2011.
- McVeigh, T. (2013) ‘Spending cuts hit women worse, says report’ The Observer, 22 September, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/21/spending-cuts-women-report, last accessed December 2013.
- Merrouche, O. and Nier, E. (2010) ‘What caused the global financial crisis? Evidence on the drivers of financial imbalances 1999-2007’, IMF Working Paper WP/10/265, December, Washington DC: International Monetary Fund.Google Scholar
- Montgomerie, J. and Young, B. (2010) ‘Home is where the hardship is: gender and wealth (dis)accumulation in the subprime boom’, CRESC Working Paper No. 79, https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/uk-ac-man-scw:181177, last accessed August 2014.
- New York Times (2009) ‘The great “he-cession” ’ The New York Times: Idea of the Day, 29 June.Google Scholar
- Noveck, J. (2010) ‘Report finds it wasn’t just a “mancession” ’ Associated Press, 9 May, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/37025768, last accessed June 2010.
- Otto, D. (2011) ‘Remapping crisis through a feminist lens’ in Kouvo, S. and Pearson, Z. (2011) editors, Feminist Perspectives on Contemporary International Law: Between Resistance and Compliance?, Oxford: Hart Publishing, 75–96.Google Scholar
- Pokrajac, M. and Moore, B. (2013) ‘Women in finance—breaking down barriers and stereotypes’ Money Management (Australia), 8 April, http://www.moneymanagement.com.au/analysis/financial-services/2013/gender-equality-in-the-financial-services-sector, last accessed December 2013.
- Ryan, P. (2013) ‘Five years after Lehman Brothers collapse, an analyst warns the global financial crisis is far from over’ ABC News, 26 September, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-26/warnings-that-the-worst-of-the-financial-crisis-is-not-over/4981944, last accessed December 2013.
- Salam, R. (2009) ‘The death of macho: the era of male dominance is over’ Foreign Policy, Issue 173: 65–70.Google Scholar
- Seguino, S. (2009) ‘The global economic crisis, its gender implications, and policy responses’, Fifty-Third Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, United Nations, 5 March, https://www.uvm.edu/~sseguino/pdf/global_crisis.pdf, last accessed November 2011.
- Sen, G. and Grown, C. (1987) Development, Crises, and Alternative Visions: Third World Women’s Perspectives, New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
- Sparr, P. (1994) editor, Mortgaging Women’s Lives: Feminist Critiques of Structural Adjustment, London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Stern, N.H. (2001) Engendering Development: A Comment, Washington DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
- Stewart, H. (2008) ‘We are in the worst financial crisis since Depression, says IMF’ The Guardian, 10 April, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2008/apr/10/useconomy.subprimecrisis, last accessed December 2013.
- Swann, C. (2009) ‘The myth of the man-cession’ Reuters Breakingviews Blog, 6 October, http://blogs.reuters.com/columns/2009/10/06/the-myth-of-the-man-cession/, last accessed June 2010.
- Tamirisa, N. (2011) ‘Financial regulators, central banks share financial stability role’ IMF Survey Magazine: IMF Research, 23 November, http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2011/RES112311A.htm, last accessed December 2013.
- Toynbee, P. (2012) ‘Calm down, dears? Why it’s a bad time to be a British woman’ The Guardian, 8 March, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/mar/07/international-womens-day-equality-polly-toynbee, last accessed December 2013.
- Tsikata, D. (1995) ‘Effects of structural adjustment on women and the poor’ Third World Resurgence, No. 61/62, http://www.earthsummit2002.org/wcaucus/Caucus%20Position%20Papers/finance%20%26%20trade/sap.html, last accessed December 2013.
- United Nations (UN) (2009) ‘Report of the Commission of Experts of the President of the UN General Assembly on reforms of the international monetary and financial system’, 21 September, New York: United Nations, http://www.un.org/ga/president/63/commission/financial_commission.shtml, last accessed December 2013.
- Wall Street Journal (2008) ‘Of note—women will rebuild Iceland’s financial system’, 14 October, http://blogs.wsj.com/frontlines/2008/10/14/of-note-women-will-rebuild-icelands-financial-system//, last accessed 5 November 2014.
- Whitworth, S. (2006) ‘Theory and exclusion: gender, masculinity, and international political economy’ in Stubbs, R. and Underhill, G. (2006) editors, Political Economy and the Changing Global Order, 3rd edition Oxford: Oxford University Press, 88–99.Google Scholar
- World Bank (2001) ‘Development outreach special report: women and power’, Washington DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
- Worth, O. (2013) Resistance in the Age of Austerity: Nationalism, the Failure of the Left and the Return of God, London and New York: Zed Books.Google Scholar
- Zalewski, M. (2013) Feminist International Relations: Exquisite Corpse, London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar