The Global Construction of Gender
Gender constructions do not stop at state boundaries.
Global understandings of masculinity and femininity can emerge out of the matrix of international politics. Proposing an innovative conception of global politics by de-emphasizing state actors and instead analyzing competing transnational discourses, The Global Construction of Gender focuses specifically on people who work at home for pay. Prügl explores the debates and rhetoric surrounding home-based workers that have taken place in global movements and multilateral organizations since the early 1900s in order to trace changing conceptions of gender over the course of this century.
As Prügl relates, home-based workers, both urban and rural, engage in a broad array of activities: they "sew garments, embroider, make lace, roll cigarettes, weave carpets, peel shrimp, prepare food, polish plastic, process insurance claims, edit manuscripts, and assemble artificial flowers, umbrellas, and jewelry." These (mostly female) workers are widely recognized as underpaid and exploited. In investigating their plight, Prügl describes the rules that have separated home and work and, in the process, created a diverse array of distinctly gendered identities, including that of the working mother as a social problem, the wage-earning worker as a male breadwinner, the crafts-producing woman as the symbol of Third World nationhood, the woman micro-entrepreneur as the heroine of structural adjustment, and the new androgynous home-based consultant/freelancer/teleworker as the exemplary worker of a flexibly organized global economy.