Impact of Global Economy and Women’s Employment in the Informal Economy on Family Violence: A Neglected Issue

By Rifat Akhter.

Published by The Global Studies Journal

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this research, I examine how the global economy and women’s work in the informal economy may create different levels of domestic violence rates in various countries around the world. Modernization scholarship assumes that the restructuring of the global economy usually transforms a traditional economy into a modern economy, and subsequently causes the informal sector to decline. World- system theorists have argued that informal work is not a phenomenon or transitional condition of underdevelopment. These laborers work under the illusion of self-employment, but actually are a part of a global production chain and work for large firms According to International Labour Office (2004), more than 60% of all women are employed in the informal economy. Even though extensive research has been done on the informal economy, none of these studies have explored whether women who work in the informal economy experience high or low rates of domestic violence. Domestic violence exists at different levels in all societies around the world. Men ensure their domination over women through a division of labor in the labor market and at home, which is the result of a long process of interaction between patriarchy and capitalism. Researchers suggest that when women work outside, at home men feel threatened and abuse their wives. Others argue that women’s work outside home empower them, which lowers domestic violence rates. Interestingly, these studies have not included women who work in the informal sectors. It is important to explore whether women’s work in the informal economy, where they earn money and hold subordinate position as home-workers and maintain their identity as housewives and mothers lower their chances of being abused. Using modernization, world-system, and patriarchal theoretical perspectives in this research I have explored impacts of global economy and expansion of informal economy on gender empowerment and domestic violence.

Keywords: Global Economy, Informal Economy, Women’s Employment and Domestic Violence

Global Studies Journal, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.79-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 531.937KB).

Dr. Rifat Akhter

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, USA

Rifat Akhter is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at University of Central Arkansas. Her research interest is Globalization, Gender, Violence against Women, and Health. She obtained her Masters in Medical Demography from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Ph.d in Sociology from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. Her current research explores how the global economy and unequal power relations between men and women create a context where domestic violence continues to be a regular phenomenon in many women’s lives. In another project she is exploring the impacts of the global economy and women’s status on the infant mortality rates.


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