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Title: Made in Egypt : negotiating gender, class and religion on the globalised shop-floor
Author: Chakravarti, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 9466
Awarding Body: School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2009
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This study breaks new ground in the literature of gender and work in the Middle East, by providing an ethnographic account of the public and visible economic activities of women as active protagonists within the formal economy. It examines how gender, class and religion intersect within a factory workplace. Management and labour practices are analysed to show how gendered roles are flexible and multiple, and how discourses of class and piety are articulated in codes of propriety and discipline - as well as in shop-floor strategies of accommodation, resistance and appropriation. The research setting is an export-orientated garment manufacturing enterprise in Port Said, Egypt, bound into a globalised sub-contracting chain. Beset by economic difficulties, management struggles to recruit and retain a mixed-gender workforce to meet rigid contractual deadlines and quality standards. Its control strategies include manipulating issues of class, gender and religion to create a discourse of 'firm as family' which emphasises ihtiram (respectability), legitimating close-quarters contact between female and male workers, and binds workers through constructs of filial ikhlaas (loyalty) to the 'proprietor as patriarch'. As well as staging go-slows and walk-outs, workers turn the 'firm as family' metaphor back on itself to create a framework of entitlement based on a shared sense of taraabut (togetherness). Codes of class and religion are flexed to craft new gendered labour roles, including productive masculinities in a formerly all-female work environment, and distinctive femininities in a previously all-male supervisory cadre. The workers also appropriate the workplace, turning it into an arena for the realisation of their wider hopes and aspirations, including the search for love and material well-being.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available