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Course Information

Instructor Info:Lynda Pickbourn
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108
01:00 PM - 02:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 108

Feminist political economy is a rapidly expanding field of economics that critically analyzes both economic theory and economic life through the lens of gender and advocates various forms of feminist economic transformation. But is there a need for a feminist political economy, and if so, why? How is the analysis of feminist political economy different from mainstream economic analyses of gender inequality? The class will begin with a theoretical and empirical introduction to the concerns of feminist economics. Students will then be introduced to mainstream economic explanations of gender differences and inequality which form the basis for feminist political economic critiques. We will then embark on an in-depth study of feminist economic methodology, theory, applications and policy prescriptions, and visions of a feminist economic future. The class will be run as an upper-level seminar, and students will benefit from prior knowledge of economics and/or women's and gender studies. Students will have the opportunity to carry out independent research projects on an issue of relevance to feminist political economy e.g. household economics; environmental issues; the care economy; migration; feminist economics of trade; macroeconomic policy; financial crises; welfare policy.

Course Objectives:

At the end of the course, you should have a deeper understanding of  

1. the theoretical debates surrounding the construction of gender and gender relations in the discipline of economics.

2. the continued marginalization of women’s lives and women’s work in various sectors of the US and the global economy, and on the interaction of gender and sexuality with class, caste, ethnicity and race to produce specific forms and contexts of oppression.

3. the connections between feminist economic theory and feminist economic transformation, and of alternative visions for a feminist economic future

Evaluation Criteria:

Course Requirements

 The workload in this class is medium to heavy.   You should expect to spend about 6-8 hours per week outside class time on this class.  Your evaluations (or grades for 5-college students) will be based on:

 Attendance and class participation

Your attendance and participation is essential for making this class a success; very little learning will take place without your commitment and active participation. You should come to class prepared and willing to discuss the assigned readings, respond to questions, engage on another in intellectual conversation, and engage with the lecture presentations based on your knowledge of the assigned readings.  Respectful and constructive disagreements and debates are encouraged, and I particularly urge you to speak up when you disagree with me, or with an apparent consensus in the class, on a particular issue.

 Class attendance is required, and you may not miss more than three classes, including excused absences. 

 Weekly reading responses and assignments

Once each week, you will be required to write a short response paper, about a page long, double-spaced in which you reflect on some aspect of the week’s readings that inspired you or with which you strongly disagree.  These response papers serve a number of functions: they prepare you for class discussions, and compel you to read and think about the readings. They should be written in an organized manner (with attention to paragraphs, grammar, spelling etc) and should demonstrate thoughtful reflection on the readings. 

 Unless otherwise noted, students assigned to Group A will respond to the readings assigned for Monday; students assigned to Group B will respond to the readings assigned for Wednesday.  After Week 6, we will switch groups.  You will be required to post your response on the course website by 12:00 noon on the day prior to the class at which the readings will be covered in order for you to receive credit for that paper.  At the end of the semester, I will look at the quality of all your responses to determine your evaluation for this component of the class. 

 In addition to, or in place of the reading responses, there may be a short assignment based on the readings for the week.  These will be posted on Moodle. 

 Final research paper

Your final paper should examine in depth a topic of relevance to feminist political economy that interests you, in the context of a particular country or region of the world. In addition to the readings in the course material you should make reference to other scholarly studies on the subject. The paper should identify the problems or issues to be addressed, the theoretical and policy debates surrounding the issue, and evaluate the potential for a feminist economic transformation in the light of these debates.

 You will be required to submit the following by the deadlines marked on the course calendar:

 a research proposal

  1. an annotated bibliography and outline of the research paper
  2. an initial draft
  3. a final draft

 During the final weeks of the semester, you will have the chance to share your research with the class, in the form of an oral/audio-visual presentation.  The dates for this are marked on the course calendar.  The length of the final paper should be in the range of 3500-4000 words, excluding footnotes, references, tables and figures.

 In order to receive an evaluation for this course, you must

  • Have no more than three absences from class
  • Complete and turn in all assignments on time
  • Engage in class discussions and activities (this includes the      research presentation)


Additional Info:

Assignments/Late Work:

All work is due on the stated date. I will not accept late work unless you have contacted me ahead of time, with a legitimate and documented reason, and we have agreed on an alternate date.

Required Texts and Assigned Readings

There are four required texts for this class.  These are listed below, and are available from the Hampshire Textbook Shop.  In addition, there are also required readings from other sources, which will be posted on the Moodle course website. 

Nancy Folbre, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values

Julie Nelson, Economics for Humans

bel hooks, Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics

Valentine Moghadam, Globalizing Women: Transnational Feminist Networks