Workshop 2 : Gender and Labour

Workshop 2

Gender and Labour


  • Hélène Guétat-Bernard

Socio-economist, Geographer and Sociologist (Head of the Social Sciences Department, French Institute of Pondicherry, India)

Invited tutors:

  • Venkatasubramanian

Sociologist (Social Sciences Department, French Institute of Pondicherry, India)

  • Nalini Ranganathan

Sociologist (Head of the Center of Women’s studies and Department of Social Work, University of Pondicherry, India)

  • Aashita

Sociologist (Center of Women’s studies, University of Pondicherry, India)

  • Hervé Breton

Science of education (University of Tours, France)

  • Binitha Thampi

Development studies (Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, India)

  • Kaveri Haritas (to be confirmed)



 This workshop will take a conceptual as well as methodological approach on gender and labour-related issues, based on the contributions of sociology of labour, development studies and socio-economics. It will mobilise both Indian and French theoretical works and examples.

The workshop will begin with an analysis of major debates between India and France led by the sociology of gender within the discipline of sociology of labour. We will study how gender studies have crossed all fields of labour sociology: starting from a redefinition of labour to deconstruct the dichotomy of productive and reproductive/domestic work, the sexual division of labour, the analysis of employment systems and professional hierarchies. From the 1990s, with the consequences of globalisation, new debates arose: regulation of the labour market and evolution of capitalism, new productive models and place of women, feminisation of labour, especially in agriculture, globalised care professions, the Indian paradox of low female labour force because of cultural constraints, labour conditions and informal sector, etc.

The renewal of the definition of labour and its analysis allowed by a gender approach is based on the theoretical challenge of articulating the sociology of both labour and family. The objective will be to understand the link between analysis of production and gender relations within institutions (not only families, but also enterprises, State). How are the labour market mechanisms gendered and how, conversely, does the labour market engage gender? How is gender effective in real work situations? Exploring these questions calls for methods to examine practices and skills: identification of situations, explication of the action, co-analysis of stories… The social and solidarity economy sector, which is theoretically less subject to the requirements of profitability production, potentially constitutes a capacitating environment through the cooperation it promotes, enabling the recognition of collective contributions and to think about experiential learning with a view to develop individual and collective empowerment.

This crossed analysis of gender and labour calls to think about work as relations of not only exploitation but also emancipation. The experience at work opens the question of self-respect, production of one’s experience, in a collective dimension of solidarity and emancipation. That is these dimensions that the social and solidarity economy will question in a feminist approach.  

Across French and Indian examples, we will thus discuss about the place of women and men at work in social and economic organisations, gender divisions at work, job systems organisation to understand how labour is an effective way to understand gender relations.

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