Marriage, Motherhood, and Masculinity in the Global Economy: Reconfigurations of Personal and Economic Life

Kabeer, N
Institute of Development Studies
Publication date: 
October 2007

How are the rising rates of women in the workforce affecting family and household structures? In a world where there is still a widespread prevalence of male breadwinner ideologies, women’s earnings represent an apparent threat to male authority. This paper uses a gender perspective to analyse the social consequences of the global market economy on the family unit. It uses empirical studies to analyse the main factors behind the feminisation of labour markets, the consequences of women’s labour on themselves and on dominant family members, the ramifications on the global economy, and finally the challenges this analysis poses for theory and policy.

Findings demonstrate that men’s resistance to women in the workforce has taken a variety of ways including refusal to share domestic and child care responsibilities, violence, withdrawal of their financial contributions and abandoning families. Further it argues that women continue to suffer a disproportionate burden of domestic responsibility. The paper concludes that a counter-movement by the affected women will emerge soon. Leading to a decreased rate of marriage and fertility, as well as an increase in the number of women opting to remain childless. The result will be a crisis in the long-run process of social reproduction.

Publication place: 
Brighton, UK
Kabeer, N. (2007). Marriage, motherhood and masculinity in the global economy: reconfigurations of personal and economic life. IDS Working Papers 290, Brighton: IDS
feminisation of labour markets
unpaid work
family structures
household relations