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Doi moi and its discontents: gender, liberalisation, and decollectivisation in rural Viet Nam.

Jacobs, Susie (2008) Doi moi and its discontents: gender, liberalisation, and decollectivisation in rural Viet Nam. Journal of workplace rights, 13 (1). pp. 17-39. ISSN 1938-5005

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Abstract

This article explores the ways in which liberalisation processes and the decollectivisation of agriculture have impacted on gender relations in Viet Nam. In Viet Nam, decollectivisation entailed a highly egalitarian land redistribution and so presents a nearly unique case study. I discuss two sets of theories: market transition theory and feminist theories analysing the household and household production processes. While market transition theories offer some insights into the differential effects of liberalisation, they do not address aspects of women's work outside the formal economy. In contrast, feminist theories are able to comprehend the complex and interlocking nature of households, lineages, and the wider economy for women's lives and work.I argue that collectivisation of agriculture presented some advantages for women, in that some work was socialised, and earning work points made their work more visible than it had been within peasant households. Decollectivisation and capitalist market relations have offered opportunities for some: for instance, Vietnamese women's role as market traders has been restored. Agricultural productivity has risen, and this has benefited women as well as men. However, this process also restores much more control to male household heads. New property laws give wives the right to have their names on title deeds, along with husbands; however, this is rarely enforced. The majority of peasant women face a loss of services, increased economic instability, and increased risk. New forms of labour organising may be needed to assist rural women in realising land and other rights.

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