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Gendering Postsocialism: Old Legacies New Hierarchies
Mälardalen University, School of Health, Care and Social Welfare, Health and Welfare. (Arbetslivsvetenskap)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3442-187X
2018 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

When the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and when, two years later, the Soviet Union crumbled and was divided into 15 independent states, the huge space formerly called the Communist Bloc or the countries of state socialism seemed to disappear forever, and an unprecedented process of change began. This process was just as unique from a historical perspective as the earlier attempts to build communism and/or state socialism. The changes had different speeds and directions, and while some states embraced the process of democratisation in order to “return to Europe”, others were experimenting with the ideals of a strong authoritarian state, religion, and a “return to tradition” to build a new society.

 

Now, however, nearly 30 years later, the different countries of this huge geographical space often continue to be addressed according to their common past, or as countries still in a state of transition or transformation from their previous condition – as postsocialist. In some cases the communist past seems to have been totally overcome, and these countries are recognized as European and democratic states with well-functioning market economies (as in the case of many countries that have joined the European Union). However, their position in the formerly socialist space can suddenly be remembered in exceptional circumstances, like during the refugee crisis of 2015 (Dalakoglou, 2016). In other cases, the changes do not seem to be thorough due to the emergence of authoritarian regimes and corruption. Thus, the states that have experienced slower changes are more frequently referred to through their past as “formerly” or “post” socialist.

 

In deference to these temporal interpretations, following Madina Tlostanova, we approach postsocialism not only in temporal terms, but also in spatial terms – as a space populated by millions of people whose experience is “underconceptualized” in the analysis of globalisation (Tlostanova, 2017, pp. 1-3). In choosing to analyse postsocialism as a “critical standpoint” in order to avoid the essencialisation of the region (Stella, 2015, p.133), we consider it important to explore gendered changes focusing on institutions, discourses, memories, identities, and fantasies that in one way or another connect to this postsocialist condition.

 

 Although taking place in varied shapes and degrees, the dismantlement of state socialism and the emergence of “capitalism” in the former state socialist countries led to radical shifts in their economies as well as in the welfare state’s involvement in social citizenship. Gender relations were a key arena for the moulding of state-socialist citizenship where institutions, guarding women’s reproductive rights as well as their work opportunities, were raised to create the ideal socialist citizen. Gender norms and gender relations have also been a prime field for forming the postsocialist citizen. While we assume that the bondage between economic regimes and gender norms is not deterministic (Asztalos Morell, 1999), the contributions to this book further explore the connectivity between gender and economy without assuming reductionist causality or restricting the sphere of gender norms to the sphere of economic importance.

 

Thus, the main aim of this book is to explore changing gendered norms and expectations in relation to the postsocialist transformation in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. We explore how the gendered legacies of state socialism are entangled with the geopolitical re-orientation of the region and the simultaneity of socio-economic, political, and cultural changes in this geographical space. How are gender expectations shaped in the conflict between impulses towards more gender equality versus the re-naturalisation/re-traditionalisation of gender norms, and how are the new gender norms entangled with the neoliberal economic demands, precarities, “multifaceted injustice” (Suchland, 2015, p. 188), new forms of socio-economic differentiation, and insecurities?How can the analysis of gender norms and expectations in the space of former state socialism contribute to a study of global developments in gender relationships?

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2018.
National Category
Social Sciences Humanities and the Arts Sociology
Research subject
Working Life Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-42278Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85047339721ISBN: 978-1-138-29606-0 (print)ISBN: 978-1-315-10025-8 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-42278DiVA, id: diva2:1275515
Available from: 2019-01-06 Created: 2019-01-06 Last updated: 2019-05-15Bibliographically approved

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