Diane Elson and Caroline Wright

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The period since the Second World War has seen major changes in patterns of industrial employment around the world. The manufacturing sector in Western Europe and North America has declined in terms of employment. Industrial development in the 'Third World' has been variable, the rapid transformation of the so-called newly industrializing countries contrasting with the far more modest industrialization rates of Africa. National boundaries have become increasingly permeable to transnational capital and a new international division of labour has been established.

These changes have had important implications for the gender composition of employment and of the work force, and have led to considerable debate about the implications for the structure of gender relations and the degree of gender inequality. A large body of work has been generated on the topic of gender and industrialization and there is a need for it to be summarised, both as a statement of the field and for the benefit of on-going researchers. A number of annotated bibliographies have been produced, but they have tended to be partial in nature. For example, one focuses on the Asia-Pacific region only and does not concentrate exclusively on manufacturing (Nayak-Mukherjee, 1991), a second has limited annotations and is confined to Mexico (Sklair, 1988), while a third has both limited annotations and considers only developing countries (Joel, 1990). We lack an up-to-date overview of the field which is global in coverage and includes information about the scope of research and research methodologies as well as research findings. Our annotated bibliography seeks to fill that gap, and to contribute to the synthesis and interpretation of a field of research now some twenty years old.

This bibliography has been produced using a bibliographic database developed by the authors as a research tool, and each reference includes a summary of the research as well as keywords associated with it. The characteristics of the database, in particular the keywords developed during the research, are discussed in the following section.

About the Authors

Professor Diane Elson, Dean of the Graduate School of Economic, Social & Legal Studies at the University of Manchester, made a seminal contribution to the literature on gender issues in contemporary industrialization through her paper with Ruth Pearson published in 1981, 'Nimble Fingers Made Cheap Workers: An Analysis of Women's Employment in Third World Manufacturing Exports'. Professor Elson has been and remains at the forefront of the development of feminist economics.

Dr Caroline Wright, a lecturer in the Centre for the Study of Women and Gender at the University of Warwick, has research interests in gender and industrialization in southern Africa and, more generally, in the relationships between gender relations and macroeconomic change.

The generation of this database was made possible by a Research Assistantship funded by the Faculty of Economic Studies at the University of Manchester, which Dr Wright held from January to September 1993.

Characteristics of the Database

The bibliography has been generated using Papyrus Software (Version 7.0).

a) Inclusion

Items have been selected for inclusion in the database on the grounds of both relevance and accessibility. The criterion of relevance was that the item should contribute to our understanding of the relationship between issues of gender and issues of industrial restructuring in the South and the North. In consequence, the majority of references cover the period from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s. The criterion of accessibility was that the item should be in the English language and that we should have obtained a copy of it.

The range of items covered is wider than those specifically concerned with industrial employment, in order to provide a context for the debate. Hence the inclusion, for example, of references which aim to account for female labour participation rates in particular countries and regions. At the same time, coverage has been limited by the criterion of accessibility, which has undoubtedly excluded some important contributions to the field made by researchers and activists in the South, as well as unpublished research papers. Some items have been purposefully excluded because they duplicate research already covered by other references in the database.

b) Keywords

The bibliography is annotated, abstracts and keywords being attached to each references. These provide markers to the content of references, while keywords also facilitate the classification of the literature and simple bibliometric analysis.

Keywords have been assigned to the references on the basis of the following characteristics:-

a) geographical coverage;

b) industry coverage;

c) type of industrial organisation;

d) stated research objectives;

e) methodology deployed;

f) publication type

Geographical coverage refers to the specific countries, regions and continents studied, and keywords were also designated according to whether or not references covered the 'North', the 'South' or both. Industry coverage is a self-explanatory category, the keyword MANUFACTURING being used in cases which were general and/or unspecified. Industrial organisation type refers to whether the work was organised centrally in one location or whether production involved homeworking, subcontracting etc. Stated research objectives help to identify the area of debate which the author seeks to engage in or initiate and are derived from the aims of the research made explicit in the text. Methodology denotes whether primary or secondary material was used as well as the methodological approach of the work. Publication type refers to whether or not the references is an independent academic publication, or constitutes the recognised output of an official body, such as the ILO, United Nations etc. Additional keywords have also been used to refer to other aspects of some references, such as major conclusions, the extent of any theoretical contribution, the inward or outward orientation of industrialization, and whether the reference is a preliminary antecedent to, or subsequent derivative of, one core piece of work (to avoid 'double-counting').

c) Conceptual Frameworks

Most of the keywords used are framed around the six characteristics of the references mentioned above. Our original research interests provided the basis for these conceptual frameworks, but they also evolved throughout the process of building up the database. Keyword generation and classification is, necessarily, a convoluted and iterative process, involving numerous restarts and revisions!

d) Abstracts

Studies on Women Abstracts provided a useful source for some of the abstracts, and is gratefully acknowledged.


Joel, S. (1990) 'Women Factory Workers in Less Developed Countries: An Annotated Bibliography', Working Paper No. 214, Michigan State University

Nayak-Mukherjee, V. (1991) Women in the Economy: A Select Annotated Bibliography of Asia and Pacific, Asian and Pacific Development Centre in collaboration with DAWN

Sklair, L. (1988) Maquiladoras: Annotated Bibliography and Research Guide to Mexico's In-Bond Industry, 1980-1988, San Diego, USA: University of California Press

Further Information

Comments and requests for further information are welcome and should be directed to Dr Caroline Wright

Centre for the Study of Women and Gender

University of Warwick