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Feminising the Economy: metaphors, strategies, politics

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Within contemporary feminism, common approaches to feminising the economy involve adding a sphere or sector or attributing a monetary value to women's unpaid labour. Each of these approaches is interested in creating an accurate representation of the real or 'whole' economy. But these representations are in the same lineage as mainstream economic conceptions; the economy remains a bounded entity that can be known by enumerating its parts. The 'adding on' and 'counting in' strategies employed by feminists complete the picture of what is needed to produce social well-being but do not necessarily help us think differently about how goods and services are or might be produced. In this article, the authors ask how feminist economic theory might contribute to envisioning or enacting alternative economies. They find answers to this question through reading feminist interventions for glimmers of a deconstructive project that opens 'the economy' to difference. Pursuing these glimmers, they attempt to insert the possibility of non-capitalist forms of economy, including economies of generosity, non-profit businesses, worker collectives and alternative capitalist enterprises impelled by a social or environmental ethic. In place of the view of the economy as a whole comprised of a pre-established number of parts or sectors, it can begin to be seen as a discursive construct that can be reconstructed to contribute to social transformation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Environmental Planning, Griffith University, Australia Department of Human Geography, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, Australia and Department of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Publication date: June 1, 2003

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