Archive for June, 2012
Do not cite without permission.
I study nooks and cranies
Here and there
I do not study the Other as past
I do not study the modern as present.
I study the present as it unfolds
And endlessly inter links
Or fades away
To re emerge in yet another present.
Women’s Laborers Transitioning and Reskilling through Digital Divides: What we learn from the juxtaposition of contexts from the Varied Geographical and Socio-cultural Contexts
[Note: Please do not cite without permission - for citation details - - contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to see elaborations of this project - this is a developing project and I would love discussion.
I had originally written this as my contribution to the GWO presentation and then it started to become a humongous project drawing in various collaborators, so I decided to pull this part out and we are going with another plan for the conference presentation - but since it is written and begun - and its a developing project - I thought I'd share on the blog - more to come later.].
This article addresses ‘transition’ within a variety of contexts wherein subjectivities are negotiated at the intersection of age, gender, technology, and hierarchies of literacies and skills called for by a globalization that is shaped by transnational corporations and their need for cheap labor forces. In such a context, women, now in their midlife, who have not been able to devote their entire life to careers are faced with a need to reskill and transition into a work environment that continually upgrades technologically and organizationally. Such women are often women who have been displaced from their jobs and in their personal lives after having devoted their best years to a system that now devalues their life experience, skills and literacies. At the same time such women are needed to contribute service labor at lower levels of the hierarchy. Classified as being not skilled enough and therefore needing training – these women often re-enter the labor force as cheap labor with no benefits. In a global climate where workers are increasing individualized and required structurally to bear material and social risks and the workplace provides less and less support in the form of benefits or structures of social support, such women are faced with the need to go back into the workforce and reskill themselves in the use of new technologies. These are women, who, whether from rural Ohio or rural South India, have spent much of their early wage earning life in supporting , yet responsible for family well-being – both material, physical and social roles both within the family (performing the important yet unpaid immaterial labor of social reproduction) and within work environments outside the home (there too, they have often spent much of their time performing service jobs involving devalued immaterial labor that props up the social relational structures of management and production).
In the interest of trying to understand women’s career/labor mobility and their experiences across contexts in a variety of non-formal and formal work settings, the co-authors of this paper draw on continuing research in geographical locations as diverse as rural South India (using case studies of women who take over handloom weaving from their male family members), urban South Korea, urban Bucharest and rural/urban NW Ohio (both in biracial and working class contexts). Through this project we hope to unfold how structural attempts to standardize work practices world-wide through layered de-skilling and re-skilling that is done in favor of mobilizing cheap labor forces to perform routine low-skill jobs, immaterial/service labor and middle management work within global work spaces. Ultimately, our argument is that different, seemingly unique, local conditions develop through an emerging global corporate logic of interconnections organized in the service of multinational corporations. However all these located experiences of transition, empowerment or disempowerment in women’s lives are structured by the needs of a particular form of global spatializing logic that functions to standardize workforces while simultaneously standardizing the structure of management and control.
Our empirical investigations involve multi-(qualitative)-methods (collaborators will be named as we solidify some of this a little more). In the case of rural and urban South India, one of the authors draws on ethnographies, online and offline interviews and from pre-existing case-studies and focus groups and interviews conducted in 2009. In continuing work, the co-authors will interview women Bucharest and South Korea. We also plan to re-examine oral histories recorded from a biracial community with a history based in (farm)labor migration from Mexico, which we collected through participator action research methods in 2007 and 2008.
We start to chart the comparisons – commonalities and differences. We thus examine how these different groups of women negotiate the structural imperatives imposed on them through the increasing standardization of business and management practices that facilitate and support the smoother functioning of transnational businesses. Digital divides therefore come into play not just in the form of re-skilling through the use of computers and access to the internet, but also through the shaping of offline service tasks necessitated by organizational structures, marketing practices and production processes that function mostly through digital platforms for management and finance.
Its time to write some of those tangents and cross-thoughts and by-products…
and maybe I will.
My publisher and I ended up deciding we should just call it an edited issue – I have so many collaborators woven into the project as authors – I would have loved to add on more chapters – authored by some more people – but maybe next time.
The chapters in the book are a result of several years of conversations and collaborations. So here’s a footnote from chapter one (page 53 or so of the book if the pages dont change as the production process continues) that notes this:
“… we illustrate our arguments through examples and understandings drawn from a long term collaborative research project that includes interdisciplinary participants and which was started in 2004 and 2005 when the first author of this chapter [Radhika] and her collaborator at that time, Annapurna Mamidipudi, worked on a project with the BASIX livelihood promotion institute (http://www.basixindia.com/) where they investigated the possibility of using online portals for the training of fieldworkers who worked in livelihood promotion. Financial inclusion services are provided by this institute, in addition to training and other livelihood promotion services. These financial services include rural microcredit lending. Later, the first and third authors [Anca] of this chapter began to look at online networks for the empowerment of women along with a few other collaborators who had worked on projects resulting in the publication examining lexicons of women’s empowerment and online non—profits (Gajjala, Zhang and Dako—Gyeke 2010). The first and third authors of this chapter thus encountered kiva.org during that research project and proceeded to investigate (Gajjala and Birzescu 2010). We drew in a development economist and a few other graduate student collaborators (see Gajjala, Gajjala, Birzescu and Anarbaeva, 2011) along the way, and the second author of this chapter then ended up taking up particular aspects related to the digitization of race in online microfinance and elaborating on this aspect in his dissertation. The first and third author still continue to examine digital financializationand non—profits online through a transnational feminist lens in relation to offline non—profits and movements to empower the subaltern in Romania and India. The second author of the current chapter proposes to look at issues of empowerment through the Internet in relation to the Ghana context. ”
while I wait to organize a bunch of in-progress works and recent themes from book chapters published into a coherent whole for another book project – am wondering if I should actually blog… at length.
Part of me is just a bit tired – but the other part of me wants to share my thoughts and fill gaps in what I might have written in the most recent MS I sent out and just in general be a writer again. Not constantly jumping to producing according to deadline.
Well – let’s see… I have to write three pieces on (subalternity, diasporas, networks, platforms) Affect and social media – in relation to two different kinds of online/offline communities -
one in relation to youth, digital diasporas, social media and virtual worlds through international contexts (where US youth also count as one of several inter-national contexts).
another in relation to craft communities and networked affect
forthcoming paper presentations at conferences will take both these up and yes they continue and connect (with) what i started in recent publications – including the book-length MS I just mailed to my publishers.
I should also probably rework the Cambridge Platforms conference presentation into a paper for the special issue… (this connects subalternity and affect with non-profit presences online – and actually also connects with craft communities research – so it bridges from my recent book-length MS – chapters 1 and 2 espectially – and the work I will be presenting at AOIR – hopefully have written it for Ken and Susaana before then…)
Still – there are so many thoughts and reflections that happen – which I cant and wont put down in public space anyway.
just a thought.
In the interim. so to speak.