“Gendered strategies of resistance in the workplace”. An example of participant observation study

I intend to focus on the issue of gendered economic relations on the labor market. I would like to investigate how the feminization of work is produced (on the macro level: by economic, state and labor market transition of diverse sector of the economy) and reproduced (in the every-day life experience of women workers). The main question would therefore be: how is global capitalist economic restructuring affecting the lives of Polish women workers? Furthermore, to escape the binary vision of gender/power relations, I will also look for women’s strategies of resistance to better understand if and why the women workers struggle is possible, and how it deconstructs their subordinate position and brings empowerment. In my PhD thesis I intend to study gender/power-class relations in one of the factories in the Walbrzych Special Economic Zone and also conduct desk research on special economic zones in Poland. This will enable me to grasp the chain of capital flow and its linkages with the local market and women workers’ experiences. No research on special economic zones from a feminist and workers rights perspective has been done in Poland. In the media and policy makers’ accounts, the zones are a success story in bringing in foreign investment, generating jobs, and enhancing the competitiveness of Polish economy. They are described as a solution to unemployment in Poland following transitional crisis, when over 5 million jobs were lost between 1992 and 2004. Precarious work, violations of labor rights, depletion of local government income, environmental costs, and impact on women are not addressed. Given this, my research project would try to provide a new background knowledge for political organizing on women’s and labor rights.

The paper would therefore be the excerpt of the theoretical framework that I have been study recently. Thus, I would like to shift the perspective closed in conference ‘call for papers’ and  concentrate on the issue of the intersection between gender and the strategies of workers’ resistance: if and how the conditions of women’s work interfere with the workers organizing (meant as: the trade union or the informal groups of workers’ activists).  In other words I would like to question how the oppression is gendered and how the resistance is gendered in the workplace, and if there is a need for other organizing among women workers – different form the traditional trade unionism.

Author: Małgorzata Maciejewska. University of Wrocław

Source: https://sites.google.com/site/unionrenewal/conference-programme/gendered-strategies-of-resistance-in-the-workplace


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