Book Review: Genders in Produciton

In Leslie Salzinger’s Genders in Produciton, the dynamic relationship that has developed between gender and capitalism is explored. Salzinger engulfs herself into the world of the modern women in the Mexican maquiladoras. Researching the mechanisms of economic relationships on gender, she physically takes on the role of a maquila manufacturing worker within the Mexican economy. Furthermore, she explores the subcontext of the new relationships that have reshaped familial life in Mexico through the gendered division of labor. The goal of Salzinger’s research is to understand why capitalism has lead to the feminization of certain industries.

The development of global production brought new dynamism to MNE’s. In order to seek maximum profits, MNE’s moved into the third world in order to seek cheaper labor. As a result, the “edifice of transnational production was built on the pre-constructed cheapness and docility of third world women workers” (Salzinger 47). Understanding the development of the feminization of the labor force in the third world was one of the phenomenas of third world production, and Salzinger seeks to understand why this has developed, and what impacts this has won social structures.

The city of Juarez is a key example of the feminization of labor. Here the maquila industries, American multinationals, set manufacturing affiliates to utilize Mexcian labor and then import the finished products into the United States. Rationalized as a way to bring better jobs to Mexico, and bring the bottom up, by providing greater opportunities of direct investment in Mexico, the maquiladora industries were a vision to lead to greater industrialization Mexico. Unfortunately for Mexican men, who believed that these jobs would bring security to their role as economic provider, the maquila industries hired exclusively women.

The use of women in labor was rationalized on traditional ideologies of feminine characteristics, in a location where traditional traits femininity were valued and desirable. Consequently, MNE’s rationalized that the docility of women would make them better means for production through control and exploitation of these feminine traits. Consequently, the maquiladoras redefined the roles of men and women in this area of society. Women were the providers, and men often left to undertake new roles, roles that they were not ready to undertake.

As women began to enter these new roles, femininity was redefined. Although MNE strategically utilized femininity in a way to produce greater efficiency among workers, Salzinger found among the three different firms she worked at different forms structural factors that impacted production.

– Leslie Salzinger. 2003. Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories

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