Centre for Employment Studies Research

CESR Review: April 2008

Book review

Walby, S., Gottfried, H., Gottschall, K. and Osawa, M. (eds.) (2007) Gendering the Knowledge Economy: comparative perspectives. Hants: Palgrave Macmillan.cesr cover gendering the knowledge economy

Gendering the Knowledge Economy brings together an international team of scholars engaged in research on globalisation, gender, flexibility and work transformation (GLOW). The chapters in the book represent key aspects of the current work of the GLOW network members, who collaborate on topics related to gender, the knowledge economy and new employment forms in a global context. The book engages with the highly contested concept of ‘knowledge economy’ from a critical perspective, analysing the relationship between gender and the knowledge-based economy. The book draws upon case studies that examine new temporalities, contractualities and spatialities of employment forms, new industries and new organisational forms, from a comparative perspective.

The chapters in the book address theories of the development of the gendered knowledge economy, varieties of capitalism and gender relations. Part I sets the theoretical tone of the book in which Walby and Shire theorise the gendering of the knowledge economy through comparative approaches. Walby introduces a new theoretical framework that underpins the remainder of the book, critically reviewing the theoretical debates in relation to gendering of the knowledge economy. Shire presents the results of a detailed comparative analysis of gender and employment in the knowledge-based economy in the US, UK, Germany and Japan, also drawing upon definitions of new economic activities from the UN, OECD and the EU. Part II (Osawa, Lenz and Roberts) explores the development of state regulations, welfare and tax policies and their impact on the development of new forms of gender employment relations in Japan; the significance of global feminism for the regulation of gender relations in employment in different countries; and routes of ‘policy transfer’ by which ‘global’ conceptions of appropriate regulation of the workplace for gender equity and work/life balance have effects in Japanese workplaces. Part III (Gottschall and Kroos; Perrons; Nishikawa and Tanaka; Durbin; Holtgrewe) examines the gendering of new employment forms in the new media, care work and call centres in Germany, the UK and Japan.

The knowledge economy has become a significant area of debate and a key focus for those interested in analysing gender inequalities. This book draws upon innovative concepts of varieties of gender regime and varieties of capitalism that encourage us to re-think the processes of de-gendering and re-gendering of working practices in the context of both de-regulation and re-regulation of employment.

Sue Durbin, CESR

 

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