The aim of this Special Issue is to carve space for feminist and gender analysis of the economy – economic policies, economic governance, economic knowledge and economic questions more generally – and make this line of research more visible within the Nordic context. While of high societal importance and policy-relevance, there is a lack of feminist analyses of the changing role of the economy in politics and society, such as the increasing role of the economy on the political agenda, neoliberal policy and labour market reforms, shifts in the way decisions about economic policy are made, and economic crisis and austerity and their gendered implication, within Nordic countries. We invite theoretical, empirical and comparative submissions that analyze and discuss these questions, and their relevance for transforming Nordic economies and welfare states.
The Nordic welfare states have been conceptualized as women-friendly (Hernes, 1987). Although the women-friendliness has been contested on several grounds (Borchorst & Siim 2002, 2008; Mandel & Semyonov 2006, Koskinen Sandberg 2018), Nordic countries are still often understood as forerunners of gender equality (e.g. World Economic Forum, 2017-2018). However, the ongoing processes of neoliberalization and economization visible in the content of economic, employment, social as well as gender equality policies, policy-making processes and welfare state employment have dramatic impacts on the state’s assumed women-friendliness.
In 2008, the world was hit by economic crisis, some countries harder than others. In the aftermath of the economic crisis, the neoliberal project, a global phenomenon, has gained increased legitimacy in the Nordic countries, intensifying the transition from social-democratic welfare state to ‘competition state’ (A. Kantola ja Kananen 2013) or ‘strategic state’ (Elomäki et al. 2016). In addition to economic policies aiming at deregulation, reduction of public spending and privatization and marketization of public services, neoliberalization of the welfare state takes more subtle forms as the dissemination of economic values and priorities, such as competitiveness and effectiveness, to all policy-making (Brown 2015).
The recent austerity policies as well as the more long-term neoliberal transformation of the state are gendered. Women and in particular minority women have borne the brunt of cuts in public spending, and cuts as well as the privatization and marketization of public services have, among other things, refamiliarized and reprivatized care (e.g. Bakker 2003; Karamessini and Rubery 2014; Bargawi, Cozzi and Himmelweit 2017; Lombardo and Kantola 2017) and shifted gender orders and/or gender regimes (Bakker 2003; Walby 2015). In Nordic countries an important result of austerity and neoliberal labour market reforms has been that the public sector and welfare state employment are subjected to intensification, budget cuts, privatization and renegotiation of working conditions. Gendered policies have been backed up with transformations in (economic) governance, which have helped to make austerity a permanent state of affairs and disseminate private sector practices and economic values in policy-making and public service provision.
Trade unions and employer organizations have had significant power over labour market issues, policy-making and legislation in the Nordic countries (e.g. Bergqvist, 1991, 1994, Siaroff, 1999; Woldendorp, 1997, Koskinen Sandberg, 2018), but little is known of the changing nature of these institutional actors in the context of austerity, neoliberalism and economization of policy-making. Apart from governments and labour market organizations, the shifts in economic policy and governance as well as the broader processes of economization have also had an impact on the possibilities of civil society organizations and feminist knowledge to influence policy-making.
We welcome both theoretical and more empirically oriented contributions that that reflect on these issues, from a Nordic perspective. The possible topics include (but are not restricted to):
- Neoliberal economic policies and labour market reforms and their gendered impacts, for example, on women’s labour market situation and care and social reproduction
- Neoliberalization, economization, changing Nordic welfare states, changing roles of central institutional actors (labour market organizations, government, civil society) and related phenomena
- Transformations of economic governance and policy-making processes and their implications for gender equality as well as the possibilities to contest gendered economic policies
- Studies on the similarities and differences between Nordic countries, or similarities and differences between the Nordic countries and other national contexts, in relation to economic questions from feminist and gender perspective
Decisions on abstracts will be sent to authors: 14 December 2018
Completed manuscript deadline: 1st April 2019
Please make sure to follow NORA’s author and manuscript guidelines, which may be found on our 'Instructions for Authors' page.