Gender and Labour in New Times

Closed Workshop

  • Workshop: 7 December 2012
  • Venue: History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney, AUSTRALIA
  • Convenors: Lisa Adkins and Maryanne Dever

A selection of revised papers from this workshop was published in Australian Feminist Studies Volume 29, Issue 79 (2014) and is now available in book form as Gender and Labour in New Times (Routledge, 2017).

Lisa Adkins in discussion with Anna Yeatman (L) and Eeva Jokinen (R).

Lisa Adkins in discussion with Anna Yeatman (L) and Eeva Jokinen (R).

The guiding assumption of this workshop is that current practical feminist orientations to gender and labour are anachronistic, expressing as they do fundamental attachments to arrangements that have been undone by the conditions of post-Fordist capitalist accumulation. Policy devices focused around ‘balancing’ work and life, for example, have little to no traction within the structures of the post-Fordist economy. In short, much well-intentioned policy work has become unhinged from both the theoretical and conceptual engagements with the changing world in which we live and the lived experience of that world (Adkins, 2008; Grabham, 2010). The financialization of wages, the end of the hegemony of industrial clock time, the rise of apparently novel measures of value, as well as reconfigurations of the home all mean that the character of neither labour nor gender can be assumed (Adkins, 2009; Waldby and Cooper, 2010). For this reason, this workshop aims at reconceptualising and rethinking these categories in ways that are relevant for our time. But in addition it also, and necessarily, interrogates the character and place of feminist thought in post-Fordism (McRobbie, 2007; Fraser, 2009; Walby, 2011). In doing so, participants are encouraged to consider the following clusters of questions:


  • what is feminism now and what is its future?
  • has feminism become the new spirit of capitalism?
  • how can feminism respond to the changing nature of both employment and unemployment within post-Fordist capitalist economies?


  • do certain key elements within longstanding feminist framings of the ‘problem’ of women’s work need to be dismantled?
  • can feminism’s attachment to the promise of paid work for women be productively rethought?


  • does the folding of the economy into society (or economization) reconfigure labour, and especially the potentialities of female labour?
  • what does this reconfiguring mean for law, policy and practice which aims to address issues of employment justice?
  • does the domestication of work change the private sphere?
  • how do new productivities challenge received feminist understandings of worth and value?


  • Lisa Adkins (University of Newcastle)
  • Fiona Allon (University of Sydney)
  • Melinda Cooper (University of Sydney)
  • Maryanne Dever (University of Newcastle)
  • Emily Grabham (University of Kent)
  • Eeva Jokinen (University of Eastern Finland)
  • Anna Yeatman (University of Western Sydney)
Fiona Allon presenting at Gender and Labour in New Times.

Fiona Allon presenting at Gender and Labour in New Times.

Gender and Labour in New Times WORKSHOP BOOKLET


Adkins, Lisa (2008) `From Retroactivation to Futurity: The End of the Sexual Contract’ NORA  – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 16(3): 182-201.

Adkins, Lisa (2009) `Feminism After Measure’ Feminist Theory 10(3): 323-339.

Fraser, Nancy (2009) `Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History’ New Left Review 56: 97-117.

Grabham, Emily (2010) `Dilemmas of Value in Post-Industrial Economies: Retrieving Clock Time Through the Four-Day Week’ Connecticut Law Review 42 (4): 1285-97.

McRobbie, Angela (2007) `Top Girls? Young Women and the Post-Feminist Sexual Contract’ Cultural Studies 21(4 -5): 718 -737.

Walby, Sylvia (2011) The Future of Feminism, Cambridge: Polity.

Waldby, Catherine and Melinda Cooper (2010) `From Reproductive Work to Regenerative Labour: The Female Body and the Stem Cell Industries’ Feminist Theory 11(1): 3-22.