In Justice: Women and Global Economics

In Justice: Women and Global Economics

In Justice: Women and Global Economics

In Justice: Women and Global Economics

Synopsis

The surprisingly vehement demonstrations at recent meetings of international monetary organizations have alerted people to the dangers of new global economic arrangements. Are there any fundamental standards within economic theory? How can economies and economic proposals best be measured? What does economic justice mean today?

Spurred especially by the situation of women in the global household, Ann-Cathrin Jarl in this considerable contribution focuses on promising work in feminist economics and feminist ethics. Jarl articulates feminist critiques of neoclassical economic theory, objectivity in economics, and current understandings of rights, equality, and power. She derives an alternative social theory from feminist ethics, and she lands on provision for basic human needs as the benchmark of economic justice. In her final chapters Jarl offers a theory of economic justice aimed at strengthening the global household and bringing the claims of justice to the world of markets.

Excerpt

Although the desperately poor comprise half the earth’s population, they remain largely invisible to economists and economic planners. Yet when millions of willing and capable people cannot feed themselves or provide for their basic needs through their own work, it presents steep challenges and tough questions to the global economic system, to economic theory, and to thoughtful people everywhere. How can these life-and-death issues of justice and well-being, of material well-being, become part of our economic thought and life? What does economic justice mean today?

Addressing these critical questions today entails an extensive encounter with the reigning economic paradigm—neoclassical economics—and analysis of economics as theory, as science, and as a living practice. It also entails a sound ethical analysis of our economic behavior, proposals for alternative economic models, and benchmarks for how we define economic justice.

In this work I search for a new framework for economics and the ethical criteria by which economic ideas can be assessed. Especially in light of the ongoing presence of massive poverty around the world and its disproportionate impact on women, I highlight the important insights and most promising ideas of feminist economists, feminist ethicists, and feminist liberation theologians. For in fact it is from women, and especially women in poor countries, that some of the most important thinking about renewing economics has risen.

In challenging economics regarding issues of gender and justice, I hope to get beyond the merely political debate and to deepen thought about the ethical dimension of doing economics. I also challenge feminists to draw more deeply from critical theory and to recognize that—despite the necessary postmodern emphasis on particularities and context— poverty, oppression, and injustice are global and must be tackled in light of commonalities of people and structures everywhere. Feminist theory has . . .

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