Racism, Sexism, and the World-system

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Joan Smith
Greenwood Press, 1988 - Business & Economics - 221 pages
This is a long overdue addition to a series of books and edited collections spawned initially from Immanuel Wallerstein's The Modern World-System. These 12 theoretically informed case studies' from a 1987 conference add considerable insight to the heavy emphasis of the World-Systems approaches on macroeconomic determinism with the inclusion of ideological and cultural factors. Most cases address how capital uses social categories to cheapen industrial labor costs in Asia and the US. Two illuminating chapters analyze the minoritization of immigrants' and variations in masculinity norms as aspects of this labor cheapening process. Choice A collection of papers presented at the Eleventh Annual Political Economy of the World-System Conference, this volume illustrates the degree to which fundamental processes of the world-system entail racist and sexist practices. The contributors have taken as their focus the attempt to both explain--in social, political, or historical terms--the pervasiveness of racism and sexism and trace the relationship between the two and the organization of the contemporary political economy. Taken together, their papers offer a more coherent treatment of the problem than has heretofore been available. By integrating an understanding of racial and sexual oppression with that of other processes that constitute the world-economy they offer new insights into the workings of the world-system and new hope for concerted efforts to eliminate racism and sexism. Many of the essays included here take the form of theoretically informed case studies. Detailed historical works explore such issues as labor force formation in the New York garment industry in the late 19th and early 20th century and competition in the world textile industry in the latter half of the 1880s. A critical analysis of the construction of census categories and an examination of the myths of differential ethnic success provide real-world examples of discrimination and its effects. A number of papers focus on the implications of our understanding of racial and sexual oppression for political struggle, while others assess the impact of women's exclusion from the workforce on power relationships in the home. Two major theoretical pieces address the issues in more general terms, emphasizing the circumstances under which racism and sexism are created and recreated in various contexts. Taken as a whole, the volume provides a necessary and enlightening re-examination of the role of race and gender in the world-economy.

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About the author (1988)

Joan Stepp Smith is a native San Franciscan. She divides her time between California and Montana writing and working with performance horses.

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