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Genders in Production by Leslie Salzinger, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Abstract

This book review analysis explores Leslie Salzinger’s account of Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories. Answers to questions related to whether a “new perspective” had been introduced and its impact on me as an educator; if in my view the concept was valid or invalid; challenges encountered in processing these concepts as an educator; my emotional response to them and concluding with how the concepts/ideas affirmed my beliefs will be the major focus of this review.

Introduction

New Perspective (Identification and explanation):- 

    Traditional thinkers and writers relate to genders in production as a competition between males and females when discussed within the industrial relations context. For example, Andrea Nightingale (2006) highlights on ‘The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment’ exposes a secret weapon used by feminists to perpetuate supremacy advancing that a natural or essential connection between women and nature exists. This connection gives them an innate understanding of ecosystems and environmental protection. It is highly suggestive, then, that they could perform better than men in the production sector where this expertise is required (Nightingale, 2006).

My perception of gender relationships within the work environment and productive sector followed a similar pattern of competing with another gender. However, Leslie Salzinger (2003) took a global view pertaining to gender in the workplace relating concepts and assumptions to the research conducted in Mexico showing how genders do not have to compete, but more importantly complete each other in the productive sector (Salzinger, 2003).

While women may be able to perform certain tasks more efficiently than their male counterparts it exists both ways since there may be male dominated tasks which they can perform better due to ther physical structure and innate dispositions.. As such, globalization and social change embraces both genders working cooperatively to enhance production in a contemporary twenty first century industrial environment (Salzinger, 2003).

Description:

Salzinger (2003) argues that the work environment is a social construct for gender related activities. Researching four Ciudad Juarez maquilas Salzinger (2003) investigates how gender is created and the manifest relationships following this creation. Theoretically, a symbolic interactionism approach was used to explore the functions of maquilas. During this observational study the researcher actually worked in three of the maquilas; the fourth was used as a control for the three being experimented on. The participant observer interaction led this researcher to discover the fragility in gender expression as well as need for reinforcement techniques using appropriate words and efficient performance in articulating these concepts which management wished to reinforce (Salzinger, 2003).

Specifically, every factory used in the experiment was assigned a suggestive pseudonym, reflecting that “femininities are idiosyncratic. Emerging from this strategy the researcher realized

that attitudes played an important role on each floor regarding distinct intentions of managers and constraints  their perceptions produce (Salzinger, 2003).

Apart from establishing the importance of recognizing that both male and female workers cumulatively make a valuable impact upon productivity Salzinger (2003) also advances that managers are the initiators of gender construction identify within their work environment. They enter the production sector with preconceptions of what gender tasks should be based on a national profile influenced by invalid information regarding productivity and efficiency issues related to performance from a gender perception. Workers are unaware of the script to which they must conform. However overtime of reinforcement and structures inequality forces they learn gender oriented workplace behavior (Salzinger, 2003).

This is important to me as an adult educator because just as how managers were perpetuators of gender biases within the work place as it relates to production and productivity, in the same way my influence can produce gender identify educational profiles.  If the thinking is that women made the most impacts upon globalization and industrialization this itself is gender bias which ought to be removed within educational system. Both genders have contributed and a coexistence between genders ought to be developed instead to separations or exclusivity. Importantly this how prejudice emerges among groups, races and gender.

New Concept (Agreed/Disagreed)

The new concept advanced by Salzinger (2003) worthy of reflection is that labor produced by women “cannot simply be bought; it is produced, or not, in the meaningful practices and rhetorics of shop-floor life” (Salzinger, 2003, p. 16).  Precisely, this can be interpreted to mean linking female docility with productivity does not constitute emergence of transnational companies in northern Mexican countries, alternatively transnational companies produced the gender biases manifested in those companies. Salzinger (2003) contends that this is a social construction applied as a primary workplace control, strategy whereby “a subject is created through recognizing her- or himself in another’s naming“(Salzinger, 2003 p. 17).

Inevitably, in agreeing with this concept, application of the labeling theory becomes imminent. Emile Durkheim (1912) advanced that labeling is a technique used by society to control human behavior. Herbert Mead (1934) supported this theoretical assumption in contending that self and identities are socially constructed entities springing forth from one’s social environment. Howard Becker (1963) later identified that while the preceding theorists made valuable assumptions regarding the issue labeling is a process whereby people who are classified within a particular stereotype conform to that identity as fulfilling prophesy of the label placed  on them (Macionis & Gerber, 2011).

As such, according to Salzinger’s (2003) these Mexican transnational companies that were researched produced the gender differences they desired to inculcate such attributes within their organizations. Obviously, they were male dominant management companies. Women and men unconsciously played the role offered them by the script’s imposition (Salzinger, 2003).

Hence, the philosophical premise of interpellation is also significant to this analysis. It emanated from a political theory relevant to agreeing with this workplace gender stereotyping identified by Salzinger (2003) particularly in explaining the plight of employees in both the traditional and contemporary labor force across societies. Simply interpreted this describes a process whereby the ideology of most social and political institutions, determines the leant behavior patterns and perceptions of individual subjects’ identities. Insidiously, as the institutions design rules and regulations to enforced social order these rules and regulations ultimately become the nature of individuals participating within that social structure (Sawyer, 2002).

Challenging Concepts

Challenging concepts relevant to adult education pertain to those emerging from the new concept, advancing the assumption that “a subject is created through recognizing her- or himself in another’s naming” (Salzinger, 2003 p. 17). Relating this paradigm with more depth to labeling theory and interpellation is first to identify that labor is a social institution just as education is. The purpose of social institutions is to provide social order. Social order pertains to integrated structures linking social institutions to social practices that conserve, maintain and enforce ways of relating and behaving within a social context (Hechter & Horne, 2003).

The real challenge here as an educator is whether my role or influence within the institution ultimately contributes towards the philosophy engraved in this statement, “a subject is created through recognizing her- or himself in another’s naming” (Salzinger, 2003 p. 17); in reality the educator in this case just as the manger or employer is responsible for the naming process. More importantly, it relates to labeling a group of people through grading systems namely, “A” students; “B’ students; “C” students; “D” or simply “F” which could be indicative of low/no achievers.

Further challenges educators face when analyzing these concepts advanced by (Salzinger, 20030 is that they were socialized into using the same script that is passed on from one generation to the next. More related to the research exposed through ‘Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories’ is that educators train people for the labor market both men and women in career choices. Adult learners perform based on scripts provided for them which could be gender oriented. Social institutions are expected to provide social order. Insidiously, curricula and grading schemes are all mechanisms of social construction of prototypes within the education system as well as society in the name of social order bearing in mind that subjects device a perception of themselves based on ascribed labels (Hechter & Horne, 2003).

There is evidence here to prove myself contributing to labeling as well as interpellation every time a student is graded and a curriculum is implemented based on the needs of society instead of those of individuals. Essentially, the purpose of education is to provide people with skills that can be used to make a successful life. When deviance is considered form the perspective of an educators simply means that some people do not accept the social order script offered to them. Consequently, they are labeled dysfunctional, dyslectic, attention deficit syndrome (ADS) among many other forms of ‘recognition of her- or himself in another’s naming” (Salzinger, 2003 p. 17).

Affirmative Ideas and Beliefs

Salzinger (2003) advances that there be more justice in work place and society if there been no creation of one’s identity through naming of another. This aligns with my belief. However, supporters of functionalism contend that society cannot exist without social structure imposed through social order. As such, institutions are designed to provide structure. In my opinion if social structure were designed to provide equality then there would have been fewer laws enforcing social justice, removing discrimination in the labor force; sexual harassment and gender biases.

Attorneys at law Allison and Taylor (2013) identified two major types of gender discrimination active within organizations. They are disparate treatment which is termed direct discrimination and means treating an employee in a different manner because of their gender. Next is disparate impact gender discrimination, which is more complex than disparate discrimination. It involves polices within the organization that insidiously excludes certain genders from jobs or promotions (Allison & Taylor, 2013).

It is my belief that gender discrimination is still prevalent within my geographic location and across the world. One example that can be cited is the gender inequality that exists in politics. It is not often that women are elected as leaders of a nation. Within 20th century 46 women have been elected world leaders inclusive of British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi of India. This is among 198 countries found in the world that ought to have a head of state ( Macionis & Gerber, 2011).

Therefore, gender discrimination exists at the highest political level. Hence, this forged the emergence of feminists’ ideologies pushing women around the world out of aesthetic slavery. Salzinger (2003) vividly accounted for this dysfunction in her research ‘Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories’ arriving at the theoretical assumption that “a subject is created through recognizing her- or himself in another’s naming” (Salzinger, 2003 p. 17). This subtly is the premise from which all prejudice and discrimination in our society is born.

Conclusion

This document embraced a scholarly analysis of Salzinger’s (2003) research on ‘Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories.’ The author advanced that employees in the production sector are not competitors, but rather collaborators of the process. They complement each other in the work environment. However, social construction of workplace identity as exhibited in the observational study reflects a stereotyping of female workers which is inconsistent with their true nature that is suppressed (Salzinger, 2003).

In my interpretation of the dilemma explorations into how this process coincides with labeling; interpellation; functions of social institutions and maintenance of social structure through deliberate designs of social order were undertaken. It was agreed that gender discrimination still exists within our society at the highest political levels even though feminists groups are fighting for equality. Educators unconsciously contribute to the process. In a male dominated world feminists organizations still have a long way to go in achieving their goals and resolving issues raised in Salzinger’s (2003) research on ‘Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories

References

Allison, A., & Taylor, B. (2013). Gender Discrimination – Wrongful Termination. Retrieved May 12th, 2013 from http://www.allisontaylor.com/wrongful_termination/gender_discrimination.asp

Hechter, M., & Horne, C. (2003). Theories of Social Order. A Reader. Stanford University Press.

Macionis, J., & Gerber. L. (2011).  Sociology. Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Nightingale, A. (2006). The nature of gender: work, gender, and environment. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. 24, 165 – 185

Salzinger, L. (2003).Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories. University of California Press

Sawyer, K (2002).  A Discourse on Discourse: An Archaeological History of an Intellectual Concept. Cultural Studies 16 (3), 433–456.

 

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