The Post-Fordist Sexual Contract

Maryanne Dever. Image supplied.

Maryanne Dever. Image supplied.

In summary: 
  • The Post-Fordist Sexual Contract
  • Edited by: Lisa Adkins and Maryanne Dever
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Moving beyond simplistic notions of precariousness and contingency, The Post-Fordist Sexual Contract analyses how work, employment and gender are being remade. Susan Luckman’s analysis of craft ‘making’ and selling via platforms such as Etsy considers an entrepreneurial model sold to middle-class women as empowering and ‘flexible’. While these women’s blogs display curated images of perfect families and creative spaces, the reality is long hours, necessary assistance in parenting, debt, risk and insecure income.

Luckman notes a problematic consequence is the collapse of demands for deeper change that might allow women (and men) to do work and gender differently. Dan Irving’s chapter on gender transition demonstrates the enmeshed context of economic and gender embodiment. Rigid post-Fordist gender identities means transition is both a private and economic event. His analysis also highlights the more general division amongst women, “between those who can be read as employable and those whose bodies and behaviours are deemed disposable”. Mona Mannevuo’s chapter on affective attachments in academia maps the intersection of labour, motherhood and affect in the contemporary university setting. Other chapters consider employability of workers and would-be workers, sub-contracting and outsourcing, and the financialisation of social reproduction. The latter chapter, by the editors, is a standout seeking to theorise social reproduction in a new period of capitalism. This is a compelling collection, deftly woven together in Adkins’ introduction. 

Maryanne Dever is the Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and joint Editor-in-Chief of Australian Feminist Studies.

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