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The Politics of Gender after Socialism

The Politics of Gender after Socialism: A Comparative-Historical Essay

Susan Gal
Gail Kligman
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 168
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  • Book Info
    The Politics of Gender after Socialism
    Book Description:

    With the collapse of communism, a new world seemed to open for the peoples of East Central Europe. The possibilities this world presented, and the costs it exacted, have been experienced differently by men and women. Susan Gal and Gail Kligman explore these differences through a probing analysis of the role of gender in reshaping politics and social relations since 1989.

    The authors raise two crucial questions: How are gender relations and ideas about gender shaping political and economic change in the region? And what forms of gender inequality are emerging as a result? The book provides a rich understanding of gender relations and their significance in social and institutional transformations. Gal and Kligman offer a systematic comparison of East Central European gender relations with those of western welfare states, and with the presocialist, bourgeois past. Throughout this essay, the authors attend to historical comparisons as well as cross regional interactions and contrasts. Their work contributes importantly to the study of postsocialism, and to the broader feminist literature that critically examines how states and political-economic processes are gendered, and how states and markets regulate gender relations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4300-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknoweldgements
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 After Socialism
    (pp. 3-14)

    The unexpected collapse of communism a decade ago changed the world. For the men and women of the former socialist states, Western freedoms and consumer goods seemed closer than ever before, but so did daunting financial uncertainty. For them, as for all of us, the familiar Cold War dualisms that divided Europe into West and East formally disappeared; the countries of East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union became members of a reconfigured global economy. As East Central Europe looked with hope to the West, Western politicians, bureaucrats, scholars, experts, and volunteers of all sorts headed east to help...

  5. 2 Reproduction as Politics
    (pp. 15-36)

    It is a striking fact about the collapse of communism in 1989 that abortion was among the first issues raised by virtually all the newly constituted governments of East Central Europe. In Romania, liberalization of abortion was the second decree issued by the provisional government upon the fall of the Ceauşescu regime. Abortion’s legality in East Germany and its restriction in West Germany almost derailed German unification. In Poland the question has become virtually a permanent feature of the parliamentary agenda. But abortion was only one of the issues associated with sexuality and human reproduction that have taken center stage...

  6. 3 Dilemmas of Public and Private
    (pp. 37-62)

    Reproduction is complexly linked to political processes and state policies. But reproduction, and gender relations more broadly defined, are no less intertwined with the economic changes occurring in East Central Europe. In this chapter and the next, we examine how the region’s newly expanding market economies are producing different outcomes for men and women and new patterns of relations between them. At the same time, we also pose the converse question of how ideas and expectations about men and women are among the factors shaping economic change.

    Gender relations include the routine ways in which men and women interact with...

  7. 4 Forms of States, Forms of “Family”
    (pp. 63-90)

    We have traced the historical permutations of “public” and “private” as cultural categories that inform gender arrangements and are imbued with gender meanings. This chapter continues to explore the ways in which gender relations are changed, especially as states have increasingly withdrawn from production and from many forms of social provisioning. Of equal interest, as before, is the reciprocal effect: Gender relations themselves shape economic processes such as the upward and downward mobility that have created a much remarked restratification of society in the region. Our task in this chapter is to turn from historical considerations to a different axis...

  8. 5 Arenas of Political Action
    (pp. 91-108)

    New forms of political participation in East Central Europe have received considerable scholarly attention in the last decade. Whether described as the establishment of multiparty systems, of political culture and self-organization, or of a free press and public opinion, the vastly expanded possibilities for political activity and expression have been a salient aspect of postsocialism for participants and observers alike. Within this scholarly work, the role of women in politics has also been discussed and documented. We build on this foundation and point to some of the paradoxes and contradictions of politics in the postsocialist period when viewed from a...

  9. 6 Gender and Change
    (pp. 109-118)

    Our reflections on gender after socialism have been inspired, in large measure, by recent empirical studies—especially those completed in the framework of the collaborative research project we codirected—as well as by our ongoing engagement with feminist theory and the literature that explores the political and economic changes that have followed socialism. In the preceding chapters, we have examined postsocialism in East Central Europe from a gendered perspective, sketching the ways it has been differently experienced by men and women, and has produced new forms of relations between them in the workplace, in households, and in politics. Gender relations...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 119-140)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 141-162)
  12. Index
    (pp. 163-169)