Most of the Left continues to rely—implicitly or explicitly–on an outdated definition of exploitation that distinguishes “economic” differences based on class from “social” or “identity-based” differences based on race/ethnicity, gender, citizenship and other dimensions of socially-assigned group membership. From this perspective, unpaid care work can be considered unequal, unfair, or unfortunate, but it can’t be considered exploitative, because it doesn’t… Read more →
In the U.S., as elsewhere, essential workers have been rightly praised for their willingness to take on additional risk and stress. Their commitment to helping patients, students, and customers face-to-face went beyond the ordinary requirements of earning a paycheck. Yet some essential workers faced more serious risks of infection than others, and differences in pay among them were also significant.… Read more →
The title of Kate Manne’s book, Down Girl, initially confused me. I thought maybe it was a girl-on-a-train-variety novel or a training manual for dog owners. As the subtitle indicates, though, it’s a treatise on the logic of misogyny. In my view, it’s a very good one. The dog allusion works, because Manne’s careful analysis of the rhetoric used in… Read more →
How colors mysteriously attain political significance. Pinko has a kind of vintage glow. Time magazine used it in 1925 as a snappy way of altering the term “pink,” long used to imply that leftist tendencies were effeminate, as in “parlor pinks,” a term the Wall Street Journal included in a list of derogatory adjectives applied to progressive politicians: “visionaries, ne’er… Read more →
I invoke a billionaire investor to call your attention to a particularly important divergence between value and price–the low wages of care.
In a recent foray to the meetings of the American Sociological Association in New York City, organized by President Mary Romero, I put together a powerpoint presentation linking the devaluation of care work to the weak bargaining power of care workers, in turn related to the specific characteristics of care work.
Sociologists tend to emphasize the highly-gendered cultural devaluation of care, along with the vulnerability of the low-wage workers (including many immigrants and people of color) who provide it. I agree these factors are important, but I think they need to be situated in a larger analysis of institutional mechanisms that affect the bargaining power of all workers. For one thing, such an analysis could help build sympathies, and perhaps even alliances, between relatively high-wage care workers such as teachers and nurses, and others, such as child care and elder care workers.
I had every reason to obey this sign, posted in the cafe where I sought refuge while my car underwent safety-recall repairs. I did not want to go away. While putting on my best smile, I started thinking about a session I attended at the Allied Social Science Meetings earlier in the month, where Erin Giffin gave a terrific presentation on… Read more →
A brief reflection for Martin Luther King day. In the U.S., an ugly steel wall with a price tag over $5 billion led to a political standoff that shut the U.S. government down. In the Indian state of Kerala, a human wall made of 5 million women (and some men) in support of women’s rights to enter a Hindu… Read more →
Things have been heating up, gender-wise, in the economics profession. Last year, a UC Berkeley undergraduate named Alice Wu applied tools of text mining and machine learning to develop an econometric analysis of the language used on a website known as Economic Job Market Rumors. The results offered striking evidence of some very unpleasant–and highly sexualized–gender stereotyping. Explicit complaints of sexual harassment… Read more →
Invited by Professor Smita Ramnarain, once a student of mine here at UMass, I agreed to participate in an Honors Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island last October. I really enjoyed my visit, and had great exchanges with everyone I came in contact with there. The students taking Smita’s course on Race, Class, and Gender were, not surprisingly, especially engaged,… Read more →
Claudia Goldin famously described the dramatic movement of women into paid employment over the course of the twentieth century as a “quiet” revolution of cumulative labor supply decisions. But this revolution had its noisy moments, and its noisy advocates, among them the magnificently noisy Barbara Bergmann. Barbara never denied the relevance of individual choice. But she emphasized the institutional structures… Read more →