Question: Explain the relevance of Modernization Theory and Dependency Theory to gender equality. Critically analyze the subordination of women in modern societies in the light of these two theories.
Modernization theory is a theory that explains the process of modernization that a nation goes through as it changes from a traditional society to a modern one. While Dependency theory aims to upgrade the condition of poor states as a result rich states become richer by the way poor states are integrated into the “world system”.
Modernization Theory Applied to Gender Inequality
Modernization theory formulates a system for ensuring control of trade and capital without restriction from the states. These theorists believe that gender equality is greater in developed countries and also believe a relationship that exists between modernization, economic growth, and gender equality. Access to information, primarily through the Internet, allow surveys that can change perceptions and encourages the adoption of egalitarian attitudes. Increased women’s economic empowerment can strengthen this system by promoting changes in gender roles and allowing women to affect time allocation, shift relative power in the household, and exercise agency more widely.
Dependency Theory Applied to Gender Inequality
The Dependency theory describes a feminist approach to understanding and addressing the disparate impact that economic development and globalization have on people based upon their location, gender, class background, and other socio-political identities. The economic approach to develop modernization in terms such as job creation, inflation control, and employment –which aim to improve the ‘economic wellbeing’ of a country.
Women’s Material Subordination in the Light of Modernization Theory
Modernization Theory blames internal cultural factors for women’s subordination in the developing world. It is stated that traditional cultures and religious ideas that support the values, norms, and customs of the developing countries, attribute status on the premises of gender. In practice, this means that males are granted patriarchal control and dominance over a range of female activities and consequently, women have little status in developing societies.
Trade openness and the spread of (ICTs) have increased women’s access to opportunities and increased their wages than men’s. Growth in exports, with a decline in the importance of physical strength and a rise in the importance of cognitive skills, has increased the demand for female labor. ICT has also increased access to markets among female farmers and entrepreneurs by easing time and mobility constraints. Women have moved out of agriculture and into manufacturing services. Let’s take an example of Mexico, in which female employment in manufacturing grew from 12 % in 1960 to 17 % in 2008, with 10 times more employment in 2008 than in 1960.
Women’s Material Subordination in the Light of Dependency Theory
Dependency theory points out that many Transnational Corporations are not interested in helping the developing world and utilize patriarchal values rather than promoting gender equality. They take advantage of ‘women’s material subordination’ – where women put up with worse conditions than men because there is no better alternative other than to work as unpaid domestic laborers. From a Dependency perspective, increased participation in the workforce also implies increased hazards for women. Women’s jobs outside the home tend to be the lowest-earning, least secure, and most dangerous available in the economy, especially in periods of recession that plague most developing countries.
Contradictory to standard perceptions about women’s service in the household, the explanation suggests that under some circumstances exposure to information can bring about large change. Unfortunately, even the global nature of business does not consult universal rights for women. Many U.S.-based companies, such as Target, Wal-Mart, GEAR for Sports, Liz Claiborne, and Lee Jeans, have contracts with Guatemalan factories and continue to honor them even if the factories break clear company policy, such as physically examining women to determine if they are pregnant and denying health care to employees. Strengthening legal protection for women laborers and increasing access to legal recourse might increase participation in the work as a positive development for women.
For more Gender Studies notes click here.