Labor and Inequalities During and After the Pandemic
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The COVID-19 crisis is fundamentally different from previous ones because it shakes a foundational element of our economies and societies: the organization of work, in its multiple forms. To fully analyse this process, a global feminist social reproduction lens is necessary. A feminist reading of this crisis captures the interplay between reproductive and productive work, where multiple inequalities are reproduced. This talk focuses on three key mechanisms. First, the pandemic and the measures to contain it have further deepened the centrality of households and reproductive work in the functioning of capitalism. Second, the re-organisation of work into essential and non-essential workers have increased the risk of certain social groups to either unemployment or disease exposure, with no evidence of material gains so far.
Third, the existing global division of labour, including its transnational dimensions, has significantly limited the ability to protect the livelihood of the most vulnerable workers, reinforcing South-North divides. Through such processes, intersecting inequalities of class, race, gender and migration status have been reproduced and magnified, both locally and globally.
Sara Stevano is a development and feminist political economist. She is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at SOAS University of London, after holding teaching and research positions at the University of the West of England, Bristol, and King’s College London. Her areas of study are the political economy of labour, food and social reproduction. Her work focuses on Africa, with primary research experience in Mozambique and Ghana.
Reading: Svetano, S. et al. (2021): COVID-19 and crises of capitalism: intensifying inequalities and global responses. Canadian Journal of Development Studies, 42(1- 2): 1-17