Gender, Work and Labour

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSHS2028034

Semester and Year Offered: 2nd semester 2010

Course Coordinator and Team: Shubhra Nagalia

Email of course coordinator: shubhra[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: Students should be registered to the programme

Course Objectives/Description:

The course will take up „work,‟ „labour,‟ „gender‟ as critical terms, as categories of analysis that open up our understanding of caste, sexuality, citizenship to name a few objects of enquiry. The distinctions between work and labour have important theoretical implications which the course aims to look at. Further the course aims to foreground the contested terrain of labour through feminist debates that took place in the 70s and continue till date. Feminists looked at labour systems and the role of the force of gender in its sustenance and ongoing reconstitutions.

The course looks at the political economy of the production and reproduction of social identities. Simultaneously, the argument will also be that social identities and cultural meanings and practices significantly organize labour and class processes. Who does what work? What is recognized, valued and productive is also made possible by the multiple cultural, moral, ethical and social meanings. Daily regeneration of life and of death, of societies and institutions is made possible by laboring bodies. Bodies framed by stigmas, shame, disgust, terror and worship. The broad aim of the course is to find multiple points of entry into debates on culture and labour as categories of analysis and see possibilities of a feminist appropriation to think through strategies for feminist

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Identify the key concepts like gender, work and labour.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of key texts and topics related to political economy.
  • Use written and oral skills to apply to an academic argument
  • Demonstrate an awareness of critical skills required to read a range of texts.
  • Apply research skills to source materials for class presentations and assessment tasks.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1. Feminist theorization of gender, work and labour: This module will look at key theories like sexual division of labour, domestic labour debate and social reproduction theory. Feminists have looked at the relationality between the key concepts and have shown how imbricated each is into the other categories.

2. Political Economy of Race-Caste and Gender: This module looks at the ways in which social dentities such as race and caste are constituted by and in turn constitute gender. Who does what wok and why are questions that unveil the connection between these.

3. Gendered emotions, Affective Labour and Expectations of Care: In this module, the course unpacks the political economy of gendered emotions. What kind of affective labour structures our entire experience of work and its environment? Care is not a value free act or emotion. The course interrogates the unmarked understanding of affect and care.

4. Contemporary Labour Relations and Sexual Politics: The module takes up contemporary work relations and work spaces such as those in the academia, commute to work, corporate sector and so on and looks at the sexual politics that structure them. The module focuses on certain industries and asks one to consider how these workplaces and the labour of workers is gendered/sexualized.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Assessment 1 of 30% weightage: A paper of 3000 words on the first unit.
  • Assessment 2 of 30% weightage: Team (5-6 students per team) presentation on Unit 2.
  • Assessment 3 of 40% weightage: Term paper of 5000 words on Units 3 and 4.

Reading List:

1. Mintz, W Sydney () Sweetness and Power. The Place of Sugar in Modern History, Penguin Books. Introduction

2. Wolkowitz, Carol (October 2009) „Challenging Boundaries: An Autobiographical Perspective on the Sociology of Work‟, Sociology, Vol. 43, No. 5, Special Issue on Re-thinking Sociologies of Work: Past, Present and Future, pp. 846-860, Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.

3. Jefrey, Craig (2010) Timepass. Youth, Class and the Politics of Waiting in India, Cambridge University Press India Pvt. Ltd. New Delhi.Selections

4. Mies, Maria (1981)'Dynamics of Sexual Division of Labour and Capital Accumulation. Women Lace Workers of Narsapur, EPW, Annual Number, March 1981, pp487-500.

5. Christine Delphy (1984) 'Patriarchy, Domestic Mode of Production, Gender, and Class', translated by Diana Leonard in Close to Home. A Materialist Analysis of Women's Oppression; Amherst: University of Massacheusetts Press.

6. Silvia Federici (2012) 'Wages Against Housework' and 'On Sexuality as Work' in The Commoner, (; “Care Work” And The Commons, Issue 15, Winter, pp74-94.

7. Lise Vogel (2000) 'Domestic Labor Revisited', Science & Society, Vol. 64, No. 2 (2000), pp. 151-170.

8. Heidi I. Hartmann () 'The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism. Towards a More Progressive Union.'

9. Lucy Ferguson (2010) 'Social Reproduction and Unfree Labour in Global Political Economy,' SGIR 7th Pan-European International Relations Conference, Stockholm, September 9-11.

10. Rubin, Gayle (2011) „The Traffic in Women. Notes on the "Political Economy" of Sex‟ in Deviations. A Gayle Rubin Reader, Duke University Press Durham & London, pp 33-65

11. Sharmila Rege, 'Conceptualising Popular Culture: 'Lavani' and 'Powada' in Maharashtra', Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 37, No. 11 (Mar. 16-22, 2002), pp. 1038-1047

12. Death of two persons engaged in the cleaning of a soak pit in Kenchammana Hoskote, Alur Taluk, Hassan District : Fact-finding Report by the People's Union for Civil Liberties- Karnataka

13. Jenny Rowena, 'The 'Dirt' in Dirty Picture'; ( OR Jai Bheem Comrade

14. Meena Gopal 'Caste, sexuality and labour: The troubled connection'; 2012 60: 222 Current Sociology

15. Omvedt, Gail ( 2005) „Capitalism and Globalisation. Dalits and Adivasis‟, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 40, No. 47 (Nov. 19-25), pp. 4881-4885

16. Gorringe, Hugo and Rafanell, Irene (2007) „The Embodiment of Caste: Oppression, Protest and Change‟ Sociology, Volume 41(1): 97–114, Sage Publications

17. Tania Das Gupta with Rebecca Hagey and Jane Turritin, "Racial Discrimination in Nursing" in Interrogating Race and Racism, Vijay Agnew, eds. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007, p.261-301.

18. Borooah, Vani K., Amaresh Dubey, and Sriya Iyer. "The effectiveness of jobs reservation: caste, religion and economic status in India." Development and change 38.3 (2007): 423-445.

19. Yan Hairong (2003) 'Spectralization of the Rural. Reinterpreting the labor mobility of rural young women in post-Mao China,' American Ethnologist 30(4):578-596; American Anthropological Association.

20. Hochschild, Arlie. Hochschild, Arlie Russell. The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Univ of California Press, 2003. Introduction, Chapter1.

21. Charmaine Williams. “The Angry Black Woman Scholar”:

22. “Girlfriend, Mother, Professor?”




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  • Jeffrey, Craig, Roger Jeffery, and Patricia Jeffery. "Degrees without freedom: The impact of formal education on Dalit young men in north India." Development and Change 35.5 (2004): 963-986.
  • Chopra, Rohit. "Neoliberalism as doxa: Bourdieu's theory of the state and the contemporary Indian discourse on globalization and liberalization." Cultural studies 17.3-4 (2003): 419-444.
  • Žižek, Slavoj. “Multiculturalism or the Logic of Multinational Capitalism.” New Left Review, I, 225, September-October 1997. Online Resource. Last Accessed: August 26, 2015.Žižek -multiculturalism- or-the-cultural-logic-of-multinational-capitalism
  • Thorat, Sukhadeo, and Katherine S. Neuman. Blocked by caste: economic discrimination in modern India. Oxford University Press, 2012. Chapter One.
  • The Indian LGBT Workplace Climate Survey Report, 2016. Mingle: Mission for Lesbian and Gay Empowerment. Web 3 November 2016
  • Mitra, Rahul, and Vikram Doctor. "Passing in Corporate India: Problematizing Disclosure of Homosexuality at the Workplace." Sexual Orientation and Transgender Issues in Organizations. Springer International Publishing, 2016. 307-320.
  • McKenna-Buchanan, Tim, and Sara Baker. "“You Are on Your Own”: Magnifying Co-Cultural LGB/TQ Microaggressions in the Workplace." Contemporary studies of sexuality & communication: eoretical and applied perspectives. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt. Willis, Paul. "Witnesses on the periphery: Young lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer employees witnessing homophobic exchanges in Australian workplaces." Human Relations 65.12 (2012): 1589-1610.
  • Frank, Miriam. "Hard Hats & Homophobia: Lesbians in the Building Trades." New Labor Forum. Labor Resource Center, Queens College, City University of New York, 2001.