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Session Overview
RN06_07b_P: Social and Sexual Reproduction and the Political Economy of Healthcare
Thursday, 31/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Ian Bruff, University of Manchester
Location: PC.3.16
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Debt Economy and Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Rights: A Transnational Feminist Analysis on Turkey, France, and the U.S.

Ayse Dayi1, Eylem Karakaya2, Brigitte Marti3

1University of Lausanne (UNIL), Switzerland; 2Center for Transnational Women's Issues; 3Center for Transnaitonal Women's Issues

Expanding financialization and debt economy that characterize the present order of neoliberalism (Berardi, 2012; Lazaratto, 2012) lead to an ever-increasing assault on sexual /reproductive rights of women. Despite the evidence of disastrous effect of globalized neoliberal politics including austerity measures (as in Greece) on reproductive/sexual health, globalization debates continue to take place as if sexuality is completely marginal to political economic processes and with the exceptions of the work of Cooper, Petchesky, Correa, Sen, etc., the effects of the political economy on reproductive health and sexuality are still under-examined in gender studies, women’s health policy and sociology of health. In order to fill this gap, we are currently conducting a multisite feminist ethnographic research analyzing the effects of neoliberal health restructuring on sexual/reproductive health care and rights in Turkey, France, and the U.S. In this paper, we reveal the various mechanisms of debt economy, such as (1) construction of public debt and dismantling of the public sector, (2) increased bureaucratic hurdles and (3) laws that police women’s bodies that restrict sexual/reproductive health rights of women in France, Turkey and the U.S. Through such transnational analysis, we aim to show the unmaking of European health care and women’s reproductive care, highlighting the links between debt construction and sexuality/ reproduction with the hopes of rethinking (together with Greek scholars and activists) ways of building transnational solidarities for equal and dignified sexual/reproductive care.

Ensuring Social Reproduction Through Exclusion? A Historical-Sociological Analysis of Paid Domestic Work in Spain

Virginia Kimey Pflücke1,2

1University of Cologne, Germany; 2Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies (MPIfG)

Capitalist societies are structured by the separation of the private and public sphere. While the commodification of unpaid work keeps pulling women into household-related services, it takes place very differently from what materialist feminists as Silvia Federici had demanded in the 1970s: The ‘wages for housework’-campaign sought to shake up capitalist reproduction by including the unpaid work of the proletarian housewife into wage labor. Today, the rising number of domestic employees as well as their poor working conditions are instead sustaining the status quo.

Building on critical feminist political economy, this paper explores the labor relation of domestic workers in Spain from a historical-sociological perspective: Tracing the exclusion of the servant from citizenship since early 19th century, I analyze the interplay of ideological and economic processes in Franquist and post-Franco Spain through archival documents, statistics and interviews gathered in 2015. I elaborate the role of religion, gender ideology, workers’ organization as well as the politics of austerity in the (un-)making of a female working class.

Analyzing paid domestic work in the context of authoritarian neoliberalism today, it shows that the private has long been a site for labor struggles. Today, over 700.000 people work in private households in Spain. Only a third of the workforce is registered, almost half are migrants, and over 90 percent women. Their marginalization within the workforce and labor regulation is legitimated through gendered and racialized institutions. This exclusion ensures the provision of social reproduction within a society in crisis, maintaining the home as foundation of capitalist production.

The Political Economy of Trans-Related Healthcare: The commodification of Trans-bodies between Medical Knowledge and the Global Market

Pedro Vasconcelos1, Sofia Aboim2

1ISCTE-IUL University Institute of Lisbon, Portugal; 2University of Lisbon, Portugal

This paper examines the transnational political economy underpinning the constitution of healthcare regimes addressing gender variance and targeting transgender people. When self-determination is being recognized as a principle for legal gender change, a material analysis of the effects and processes of access to health provisions implies considering three aspects. Firstly, the ways in which maldistribution cohabitate with the recognition of multiple trans identities. Secondly, a transnational perspective is paramount, whether we analyse the uneven access to healthcare or the formation of a ‘class’ of experts (the specialists on transsexual care) that operate in the global market. Thirdly, considering biopower and the relation power-knowledge as market-driven rather than state-driven implies a wider formulation, which intends to expand Foucault’s original contribution on the basis of marketized strategies and the commodification of (trans)bodies. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork with trans-people and healthcare professionals in Portugal and the United Kingdom, we argue that the commodification of health at the global level impacted protocols and standards of care. When rights are being gained and laws privilege self-determination, thereby fostering a regime of self-governance of gender identities, the material support to transgender people decreases with neo-liberal capitalism dominating the offer of care for profit. While the State controls still the bureaucracy of gender identity, the transnational market provides the services to transform the gendered body. Consequently, and along class lines, opportunities for expanding a global market of privatized trans medical care filled the gap, reproducing inequality at the expenses of a political economy for social and gender justice.

Understanding the Role of Capital in Turkish Health System Reform

Eren Karaca

Binghamton University, United States of America

With a general aim to understand social policy (trans)formations in non-advanced capitalist countries, this paper will focus on the political economy of healthcare reforms with particular reference to the Turkish case. The transformation of social policy agendas worldwide after the 1980s has been one of the important scholarly concerns that seek to understand the neoliberal era. Although there had been different accounts dominating the social policy/welfare state literature before the neoliberal shift, it seems that the impact of the neoliberal ideology has shifted the discussions at a greater pace. As the scholarly interest in identifying and explaining the differences of welfare systems and then the neoliberal hegemony in the scholarly debates as well as in the policymaking circles propagated through international institutions have upsurged, the systemic explanations have lost their influence. This dominant ideology needs to be challenged both theoretically and ideologically, and social policy/welfare states literature seems to remain an untouched area in this sense.

Inspired by the earlier structural, and mostly Marxist, explanations of welfare systems, this paper will attempt to relink the processes of capital accumulation and social policy (trans)formations. Contrary to the existing literature focusing on the social policy as a relation between state and people, I will conceptualize the social policy (trans)formation processes through capitalist relations led by the deep and complicated relationship between state and capital. As a case study, I will look closer to the not-so-visible relationship between the Turkish health care reform that has mostly been interpreted as the AKP’s neo-populist tool and the national and international capitalist groups' motives behind the reformist policies.

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