The Chinese Triangle of Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong: Comparative Institutional Analyses

By Alvin Y. So; Nan Lin et al. | Go to book overview

8

INSTITUTIONS AND NETWORKS CONSTRUCTING GENDER INEQUALITY IN MANUFACTURING FACTORIES: THE CASE OF TAIWAN'S EXPORT PROCESSING AND INDUSTRIAL ZONES

Ray-May Hsung and Esther Ngan-Ling Chow


INTRODUCTION

The interplay between capitalism and patriarchy has created and perpetuated gender inequality historically and globally (Chow and Berheide 1994). The industrialization experiences of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China can be used to demonstrate how various forms of the intersection between capitalism and patriarchy under global economic restructuring have shaped work and family life for men and women in these regions. Quiet as the process is, economic restructuring fundamentally transforms the economic landscape as well as social institutions, bringing about a highly gendered development process that has more adverse effects on women than on men. Under capitalism, employed women are particularly affected not only by the patriarchal system in terms of sex-segregated jobs, unequal positions, wage disparities, and limited job mobility in the public domain of the workplace but also by the dynamics of power relations and the gendered division of labor in the private sphere of the home. This inequality is produced and reproduced by the gendering process embedded in social institutions and networks. It is reinforced through social interaction of “doing gender” (West and Zimmerman 1987) and is fortified by institutional rules, explicit or implicit, and structural arrangements to justify the unequal treatment of women and men. This study focuses on the social processes of constructing gender inequality in work and family life between men and women factory workers in one exporting processing zone (EPZ) and an industrial park in Taiwan. We specifically examine how the gendering process is promoted by institutional rules and arrangements in support of patriarchy and capital accumulation and whether factories owned and managed by Americans, Japanese, and Taiwanese foster gender inequality differently.

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