Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Economic Geography
Title Harnessing women's work: Restructuring agricultural and industrial labor forces in the Dominican Republic
Volume 74
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1998
Page numbers 149-169
URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/144280
The recent period of crisis and adjustment in Latin America and the Caribbean is fueling a fundamentally gendered process of labor force restructuring in both agriculture and industry. An analysis of ongoing changes in the Dominican Republic finds that one of the most striking shifts in the labor market landscape involves women's increasing incorporation into nontraditional agriculture and export manufacturing. The Dominican state and corporations collaborate in devaluing and harnessing women's labor in these sectors, enhancing private profits and the success of exportled development strategies.

This study deepens our understanding of gendered labor force restructuring by analyzing the rarely noted, but substantial, incorporation of women in new agro-enterprises and by comparing the ways in which a female labor force has been actively constructed in nontraditional agriculture with more familiar patterns in export manufacturing. Firms in both sectors rely on women to fulfill labor-intensive and exacting tasks, juggling traditional gender ideologies to encourage the employment of mothers while maintaining the gender subordination that cheapens women's labor. In export processing, the concentration of firms in free trade zones stimulates the creation of a distinct new labor force. The dispersed nature of new agro-enterprises encourages the reliance on a broader pool of less-privileged workers and leads to a more generalized challenge to existing gender roles. In both agriculture and industry this process proves highly contradictory for women workers, for firms, and ultimately for state sponsors.

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