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A Mosaic of Gendered Power Imbalances

The Transformation Processes in East Central Europe seen from a Gender Perspective

Diplomarbeit 2002 187 Seiten

Soziologie - Sonstiges



1 Introduction
1.1 Questions and Hypotheses
1.2 The Scope of This Thesis
1.3 Approach and Proceedings

2 Theory
2.1 Feminist Approaches to International Relations (IR)
2.2 Feminist Approaches and International Relations
2.3 Macro- and Micro-oriented Approaches to Researching and Theorizing Transformation Processes in East Central Europe after the Implosion of State Socialism
2.4 Feminist Approaches to Researching and Theorizing Transformation Processes in East Central Europe after the Implosion of State Socialism
2.4.1 Gender, Gender Relations, and Gender Regimes Public – Private Dichotomy Productive – Reproductive Work Divide Work, Politics, and Reproduction in the Light of the Public – Private and the Productive – Reproductive Work Divide

3 State Socialism
3.1 Theoretical Background. Ideas about Gender Equality and Emancipation of Women
3.1.1 Marx and Engels – a Promising Start with Several Flaws
3.1.2 “As dynamite shatters the hardest rocks…..”
3.1.3 But Certain Rocks Are Just Too Solid….…
3.1.4 Reproduction and Housework – No Room for That Kind of Labor!
3.1.5 The Socialist Women’s Movement – Short-lived Independence and Legitimacy
3.1.6 Theory Meets Reality – Harsh Disillusionment, Especially for Women
3.1.7 From Educational Dictatorship to the Reinterpretation of the ‘Classics,’ until They Fitted
3.2 State Socialist Reality
3.2.1 Paid Work and Education
3.2.2 Socialization of Reproductive Work and Women’s Double Burden
3.2.3 Reproduction
3.2.4 Declining Birthrates and Pro-natalist Policies
3.2.5 Economic Crisis, Automation, and Modernization
3.2.6 ‘Informal’ Economy
3.2.7 The Private Sphere
3.2.8 ‘Private’ Political Activity
3.2.9 Public Politics
3.2.10 Women’s Organizations
3.2.11 Gender Images and Gender Relations
3.3 Summary and Conclusions

4 Transformation Processes
4.1 General Tendencies and Trends during the Transformation Processes
4.1.1 The Role of the State?
4.1.2 Privatizations
4.1.3 Social Costs
4.1.4 The Political Sphere
4.1.5 Value-vacuum
4.1.6 Transformation and Gender
4.2 Reproduction
4.2.1 Reproduction: A Prominent Topic of Political Debates and Legislation Poland: “…nobody wins in Poland if the Roman Catholic Church is against them….” Romania: Liberalized Access to Abortion – “…the only good thing democracy has brought us….” Hungary: Call for Producing “little Hungarians” Slovenia: Reproductive Rights Successfully Defended – for Women as Mothers Only Bulgaria: Liberal Abortion Law, Owing to the Past Czechoslovakia Respectively the Czech and Slovak Republics: No Direct Limitations to Reproductive Freedom Concluding Overview
4.2.2 Reproductive Freedom?
4.2.3 Use and Abuse of Reproductive Issues in Politics
4.2.4 ‘The Pattern’ is Shining Through
4.2.5 Women’s Active Part
4.2.6 Summary
4.3 The Sphere of Work
4.3.1 ‘Young, Female, Pretty, for Low Positions…..’
4.3.2 Vicious Circle: No Job – No Childcare Place, and the Other Way Round
4.3.3 Men Edging Out Women
4.3.4 Growing Gender Segregation and Polarization among Women
4.3.5 Sexual Harassment – High, but Hardly Tackled
4.3.6 Positive Developments, Double-edged Swords, and “feminine working elites”
4.3.7 Summary
4.4 The Sphere of Politics
4.4.1 “Men must lead now”
4.4.2 Women’s Needs? “There is never an end to ‘more pressing issues’”
4.4.3 More than Token Women…
4.4.4 NGOs and NPOs – Numerous but Weak
4.4.5 Once again – Heterogeneity among Women
4.4.6 Summary

5 International Economic and Monetary Organizations/Institutions and Their Role in East Central Europe before and after the Implosion of State Socialism
5.1 The Alternative to an “arc of instability”
5.2 Driving a Wedge between the Soviet Union and State Socialist East Central Europe
5.3 Financial Support – Always Connected to Certain Conditions
5.4 Summary

6 The European Union’s Role in the Transformation Processes in East Central Europe
6.1 Co-operations and Assistance
6.2 Approaching EU Membership
6.3 Pre-accession Strategy and Pre-accession Assistance
6.4 Summary – with Special Regard to Gender

7 Conclusions and Further Contemplations
7.1 ‘The Pattern’
7.2 …. As Point of Departure
7.3 ‘The Basics’ – Surviving the Change of Systems
7.4 Looking under the Surface…
7.5 Generalizations – a Brief Excursus
7.6 Big and Even Bigger Mosaics
7.6.1 The East Central European Mosaic
7.6.2 The International or Global Mosaic
7.7 How to Change ‘the Pattern’?

8 Literature

9 Curriculum Vitae


When I look back at the reasons that made me finally choose the topic of my thesis, I realize how complex they are, and how long back my decision had actually started to form without my being conscious of it. During my academic work over the last couple of years I encountered many different cases of a certain pattern. It was a particular pattern of power and power relations repeating itself in many disguises, in different places and at different times. I came across this pattern when I was studying, for instance, the East Asian economic crisis and its impact on the employment of women and men, or the social reactions to economic restructuring in Kuwait. Other examples were the military prostitution in South Korea, global refugee issues, processes within US military forces in general and during the Golf War in particular, etc. The core of this pattern was always the same: A male elite is pursuing particular interests by exerting power. And in doing so, this elite is disadvantaging weaker parts of society or of a particular social body, especially women, in many cases. At times, however, the elite may appear fair or even generous towards these weaker parts. But once the circumstances change and/or the elites’ interests are being threatened, this fairness or generosity is dropped and may be completely reversed. And there is hardly anything the disadvantaged group(s) can do about it. Since I repeatedly came across this obviously gendered pattern, I became more and more interested in its dynamics, in the way it was constructed, and the way it worked and determined people’s everyday life.[1]

During my semester as an exchange student at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, I took an amazing and challenging class on Gender and World Politics. Intense course work, inspiring class discussions, and a passionate professor, a feminist international relations scholar, strengthened my determination to work and write my thesis on a topic in international politics – from a gender perspective. As the semester came to a close, Valerie Sperling, a guest speaker, gave a lecture on Organizing Women in Contemporary Russia that aroused my interest in the transformation[2] processes in former state socialist countries. In Valerie Sperling’s lecture I once again noticed the same pattern of power and power relations as described above, which spurred me on.

From then on, two things guided me towards my final decision on a topic: a personal interest in East Central Europe[3] and the people there, and a planned and approaching enlargement of the European Union (EU) towards East Central Europe. I felt a strong desire to find out more about these countries and the developments and processes that have been taking place there over the last few decades, especially from a gender perspective. Contradicting news about the former state socialist countries’ economic and democratic progress since the end of the old regime on the one hand, and about a widening gap between the rich and the poor, a deteriorating position of women in politics and the labor market, and worsening social conditions on the other made me curious.

1.1 Questions and Hypotheses

The main questions at the beginning of my work were the following: What changed after the implosion of state socialism[4] in the countries of East Central Europe? And how? What were the gendered implications of these changes? What do the power relations between men and women in these societies look like and how do they function? Are they comparable to the gendered patterns I have encountered before? Have they changed during the transformation processes, and if yes, how? And what role have the EU and the possibility of gaining EU membership been playing in the transformation processes?

From what I had read and learnt until then I formed the following main hypotheses:

- Gender inequality,[5] a patriarchal pattern,[6] and male dominance can be found both during state socialism as well as during the transformation processes after its implosion – only the configurations have changed.

- The striving of the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe for EU membership is compounding this gender inequality, in fact through the priority that is given to economic progress as against social issues (that particularly affect women’s lives), both during the pre-accession negotiations and co-operation as well as within the EU itself.

1.2 The Scope of This Thesis

To approach these questions and test my hypotheses I went way back to early socialist theorists, protagonists, and movements and their ideas and goals. I wanted to get an idea of the thoughts and goals of socialists/Marxists to be able to understand why and how state socialism came into being. Due to my feminist research approach, which I will discuss later in greater detail, I was particularly interested in women and gender issues in these theories and ideas. The next step was trying to grasp the state socialist reality. From this vantage point, I could finally analyse the changes and transformations that have been taking place since the implosion of state socialism. Thus, my research actually covers the period from the turn of the 19th century to the present. The focus, however, is on the state socialist era in East Central Europe, starting after World War II, the implosion of state socialism at the end of the 1980s, and the transformation processes to date.

After a period of extensive reading, thinking, and contemplating I finally decided to restrict my research to seven former state socialist countries in East Central Europe: Poland, Czechoslovakia, respectively the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Romania. I chose these countries because firstly all of them had been state socialist, and secondly all of them are currently candidates for membership in the European Union. At several stages of my work I thought of focusing on one or maybe two countries only. But then I deliberately decided to look at the ‘bigger picture.’ I wanted to reveal ‘the pattern,’ if it really existed. If I chose only one country and found this pattern, then I would not know whether that was a coincidence or not. Even two countries did not seem sufficient. Strong curiosity to find the same pattern in all of these very different former state socialist countries and an indefinable urge to understand its dynamics and structures made me stick to a larger number of countries.

Now, the questions that guided my research are very complex. In order not to be flooded by the masses of information provided I had to narrow my research down to a few key issues. As mentioned above, I intended to find out what role gender played in the processes and developments in the countries under consideration.[7] The focus should be on power,[8] namely especially gendered power and power relations. Thus I tried to figure out areas where this power and these power relations manifest themselves. After some contemplation I decided on three main spheres: politics,[9] work,[10] and reproduction.[11] These spheres are interconnected in various complex ways. Reproduction and the time spent on reproductive work, for instance, determine how much energy and time is left to participate in politics and/or paid work. Decisions in the political sphere, for example, can have a deep influence on conditions on the labor market as well as on decisions about reproduction. Employment and a certain material independence it involves may also have an impact on decisions about reproduction as well as on attitudes toward and participation in politics. Power or powerlessness in any of these spheres has a considerable impact on the everyday life of individuals, but also on society in general.

Regarding the scope of my thesis, I am well aware of the broad range of issues I am intending to cover as well as of the complexity and diversity of their geographical, historical, cultural, and social backgrounds. There are many differences between and within the countries I have chosen for my research. The conditions of everyday life definitely vary enormously. The same applies to gender relations and forms of power distribution. ‘Women’ and ‘men’ are not “homogeneous social categor[ies]” (Gal and Kligman 2000a, 4) but very heterogeneous and diverse due to different social, cultural, religious backgrounds. I know that a look at the bigger picture “barely scratches the surface of the variety and enormous complexity” (Corrin 1992c, 253) in people’s life. But in spite of this, or rather exactly because of this, I believe that it is crucial to find out if there is a common pattern, if there are parallels, similar tendencies and structures that determine gendered hierarchies. If such a gendered pattern as I have mentioned at the beginning of the introduction is detectable by looking at the bigger picture, its analysis can provide a lot of helpful information and lead the way to analysing and consequently doing away with gendered power hierarchies in smaller entities.

1.3 Approach and Proceedings

To approach the questions standing at the beginning of my work, I decided to use a feminist approach with gender as a central category of analysis. As I will explain below, this is a very fruitful way to discover and reveal social interconnections, causes and outcomes of economic, political, and social processes, as well as crucial patterns that have been influencing and/or directing the processes in the East Central European countries under consideration over the last decades.

Due to the wide scope of my thesis, I decided to approach its topic mainly through secondary literature. That seemed to be the only feasible way for me to research, test my hypotheses and find answers to my questions within the scope of a master’s thesis. Since I spent the first couple of months working on my thesis in Boston, I could use the great libraries of both Wellesley College as well as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) for my research. This was a huge advantage, because much more has been written about East Central Europe, the Soviet Union, and the state socialist as well as post-state socialist periods in general in the USA than in Europe. Thus, I found a lot more books, texts, reports on my topic there than I had found in Austria, which enabled me to get a good overview of the subject matter.

In order to get an idea of the main part of my work, namely the transformation processes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe, I started my initial reading period with reading about them. Soon, I became curious about the basis, the preconditions of the transformation processes. I wanted to know what had exactly been there before. Thus, I went all the way back to texts about socialist/Marxist theory and ideas, especially those concerning women and gender equality. Literature on the state socialist reality followed. With this crucial background knowledge I returned to the transformation literature. I looked at different transformation theories and approaches, which only strengthened my decision to use a feminist approach. The main reason for this was the fact that this approach made the processes more understandable for me. It showed crucial interconnections and shed light on complex patterns that formed the basis for many changes. Other approaches were just not as satisfactory for me as feminist approaches.

Throughout my reading periods I deliberately put an emphasis on feminist authors or authors applying a feminist perspective on the subject matter.[12] At the same time I tried to mix Western[13] writers and writers from East Central European countries, in order to avoid an ethnocentric Western perspective.[14] For my information on the EU’s involvement in East Central Europe and the EU-enlargement process I used secondary literature as well as EU-documents and information directly from the EU. The EU’s homepage on the internet was very helpful and resourceful in this regard.

Since the topic of my thesis is in the realm of international politics, I am taking a look at the encounters of feminist approaches and international relations at the beginning of my written work. After that I am giving an overview of the main approaches to researching and theorizing the transformation processes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe, followed by an explanation of the approach I am taking. Then I am developing a theoretical framework that I am eventually applying to analyse the processes and changes taking place in those seven East Central European countries I have chosen for my work. In the final chapters of my thesis I am dealing with global influences on East Central Europe, namely international economic and monetary organizations/institutions and their role in East Central Europe before and after the implosion of state socialism as well as the European Union’s role in the transformation processes. Finally, a summary of the central results of my research, a few closing thoughts, and a glimpse ahead are concluding my work.

Before continuing, I would like to point out that all parts of the text that are italicized and marked by single quotation marks are my own translations from German into English.


2.1 Feminist Approaches to International Relations (IR)

International Relations have been a strong male domain both in terms of politics as well as theory and research. It happened only recently, that is in the late 1980s, that feminist perspectives and approaches made slight inroads into this domain (see Tickner 2001, 1-2 and 9-11). The encounters between traditional approaches and those from IR feminists have been rather difficult, since feminist scholars have severely questioned traditional IR concepts, theories, and categories and introduced new approaches, “extending the boundaries of the discipline, asking different questions in new ways, and listening to unfamiliar voices from the margins” (Tickner 2001, 35). IR feminists’ work is “grounded in contemporary feminist theoretical debates” (Tickner 2001, 5). These debates form a “widely divergent, sometimes contradictory, amalgam of positions” (Rosi Braidotti quoted in Tickner 2001, 20). Thus, IR feminist approaches may also differ considerably from each other. But what all of them have in common is their use of “gender as a central category of analysis” (Tickner 2001, 5) and the main concern to “explain women’s subordination, or the unjustified asymmetry between women’s and men’s social and economic positions” (Tickner, 2001, 11). Furthermore, they are interested in finding ways to overcome this asymmetry (see Alison M. Jaggar quoted in Holland-Cunz 1996, 359; Tickner 2001, 11). At this point I would once more like to quote J. Ann Tickner who underlines a crucial difference between traditional IR and feminist IR:

Whereas IR has generally taken a “top-down” approach focused on the great powers, feminist IR often begins its analysis at the local level, with individuals embedded in social structures. While IR has been concerned with explaining the behavior and interaction of states and markets in an anarchic international environment, feminist IR, with its intellectual roots in feminist theory more generally, is seeking to understand the various ways in which unequal gender structures constrain women’s, as well as some men’s, life chances and to prescribe ways in which these hierarchical social relations might be eliminated (Tickner 2001, 4).

This approach is not only fruitful for uncovering and understanding male and female power asymmetries. It moreover opens new perspectives on international processes and developments. Showing the other side of the coin, it uncovers the reciprocal processes of international policies and trends. On the one hand, it highlights the ways in which international policies and trends work at the personal or individual level, how they influence people’s everyday life, their interactions with each other, and their attitudes. On the other hand, it also sheds light on the subtle and complex ways in which individual attitudes, expectations, and images, social relations and interactions, and personal backgrounds influence trends and developments on a larger international scale. Especially gender roles, images, and relations play a crucial role in this regard, as I will show in the following chapters. Thus, as Tickner points out, “feminist approaches to IR are contributing and can contribute to our understanding of global politics” (Tickner 2001, 5). In this work I will use such an approach to uncover and understand processes and developments that have been taking place in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe during the past decades. Before I do so, I would like to take a look at the rather young ‘herstory’ of the relationship between or interaction of feminist approaches and international relations (IR).

2.2 Feminist Approaches and International Relations

IR started as “a discipline seeking a better understanding of war, conflict, and the problems of anarchy” (Tickner 2001, 22). Roughly speaking, there have been three major debates over subject matters and appropriate methodologies, over ontological and epistemological questions and issues in IR so far.[15] The first debate took place in the 1930s and 1940s. In the face of the Second World War, realists criticized the idealistic-normative school and its optimistic view of international politics and the functioning of international institutions and legal arrangements. As Tickner says, “[f]lagrant violations of international law and abuses of human rights in the name of German nationalism motivated realist scholars to dissociate the realm of morality from the realpolitik of international politics” (Tickner 2001, 22-23). The second debate took place in the 1950s and 1960s, when later realist scholars “turned to the natural sciences for their methodologies” in order to gain “scientific respectability” (Tickner 2001, 23). In the 1970s, liberal and Marxist scholars entered the scene with worldviews different from the realists’,[16] thus launching a so-called “interparadigm debate” (Tickner 2001, 24). With the gradual decline of state socialist systems Marxist approaches also lost their significance. Thus, realism and liberalism and later neo-realism and neo-liberalism remained the dominant schools in IR. By 1989, however, Yosef Lapid “proclaimed a ‘post-positivist era’ in international relations” [….] [, which] includes a variety of approaches – critical theory, historical sociology, and postmodernism, as well as most feminist approaches” (Tickner 2001, 26). In this regard, Lapid articulated the term ‘third debate,’ which for the first time made room for feminist perspectives in IR (see Tickner 2001, 26-27).[17] These various ‘new’ approaches to IR “stress the role of social forces as well as the impact of cultural practices, norms and values that are not derived from calculations of interests as in rationalistic theories” (Tickner 2001, 26).

In spite of the fact that the implosion of state socialism in East Central Europe and the Soviet Union shook traditional IR theories and paradigms profoundly and supported post-positivist approaches, the latter remained of marginal importance in IR (see Sauer 1996, 155; Gärtner 1993, 133-134; Tickner 2001, 26-27; von Beyme 1996, 13-15). As Tickner says, “[s]cholars in the scientific tradition tend to judge critical theorists according to positivist criteria for good scientific research, which makes other approaches, when judged in these terms, look less than adequate” (Tickner 2001, 27). She also points out the “disparity of power” between scholars in the scientific tradition and critical theorists, which “makes the potential for genuine dialogue very difficult, particularly in the United States, where postpositivist approaches, including feminism, are rarely given much attention” (Tickner 2001, 27).

Despite this very short and rather superficial overview of IR’s history and the place of feminist approaches within it I hope that I could make clear how long this discipline has been dominated by male concepts and categories, and how hard a way it has been for IR feminists to enter it at all. A long and difficult way is still ahead of feminist IR and its acknowledgement as an informative and instructive approach to international relations and politics. This is especially true for the investigation of processes and developments in former state socialist countries of East Central Europe after the implosion of state socialism. This implosion and with it the end of the Cold War came as a surprise and shook the discipline, that is the theories, concepts, and categories of political science in general and IR in particular really deeply. Thus, the discipline and their advocates entered a state of crisis. After all, the prognoses and predictions about the region and the Cold War itself had proved absolutely wrong or not adequate at best (see von Beyme 1994, 16-44; von Beyme 1996, 11-12; Pappi 1996, 236; Sauer 1996, 155; Gärtner 1993, 133-134; Waldrauch 1994, 3).[18] But in contrast to what might have been expected, the main/male paradigms were – one might almost say stubbornly – maintained. This deliberate confirmation certainly strengthened them. There have definitely been changes and adaptations to the new circumstances, but the core remained the same.[19] That also means, as mentioned above, that postpositivist approaches stayed at the margins of the discipline (see Sauer 1996, 155-158; Tickner 2001, 9-10 and 26-27). As for feminist approaches, ‘political science used this crisis for the concretization and enforcement of traditional gender-neutral paradigms’ (see Sauer 1996, 157).

2.3 Macro- and Micro-oriented Approaches to Researching and Theorizing Transformation Processes in East Central Europe after the Implosion of State Socialism

I would now like to take an overview of the most common or main/malestream approaches to researching and theorizing the transformation processes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe. There are various differences regarding the object(s) of research and/or the methodology between these mainstream approaches. On the one hand, there are macro-oriented approaches focusing on structural preconditions for the transformation like levels of economic development, or political culture. On the other hand, micro-oriented approaches are focusing, for instance, on the role of influential protagonists in the transformation processes, or on changes and developments in particular institutions and political spheres (see von Beyme 1994, 88; Merkel 1999, 78; Sauer 1996, 131-133; Waldrauch 1994, 27-28). In political science or IR works, it is not always possible to draw a clear dividing line between the approaches used. Mostly, it is a mixture of them (see Merkel 1999, 77; Sauer 1996, 156; Waldrauch 1994, 28).

Theories of modernization or modernization approaches figure prominently in the group of macro-oriented approaches. Generally speaking, they regard the former state socialist countries’ transition to economic and political models of ‘successful’ modern Western societies as a necessary step in their development. This claim is based on the underlying assumption that all societies have to modernize themselves and cannot circumvent this evolutionary process. The different phases of this modernization process involve, for instance, alphabetization, urbanization, industrialization, and democratization. Due to a lack of desirable alternatives, the current universal trend is supposed to be going towards democracy and free market economy. Modernization approaches had been criticized long before the implosion of state socialism. Their claim of having discovered a global law of development as well as their being oblivious to opposite or reversal tendencies were a cause of offense. Despite this criticism, modernization approaches have been revived and reinforced after the implosion of state socialism in East Central Europe. After all, a major alternative to democracy and free market economy had collapsed together with state socialism, thus strengthening the idea of an evolutionary modernization process towards democracy and free market economy. Beside the criticism mentioned above modernization approaches do not consider the specific constellations of power and influence within a society. They turn a blind eye on individual protagonists, their attitudes, experience, and active roles in the transformation processes. Thus, crucial preconditions and processes of change are left out in research and reasoning. That includes gender images and relations, which are not considered either (see Filipic 2001, 13-19; Waldrauch 1994, 33-35; Sauer 1996, 140-143).

To approach the changes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe political science/IR scholars frequently apply theories of democratization and researching democratization processes. They do so on a macro-level, looking, for instance, at structural preconditions for democratization and changes within the political system in general, but also on a micro-level, looking at particular institutional bodies. Often focusing on (democratic) political institutions and processes within those, these approaches are being oblivious to developments in other spheres of society.[20] This causes a particular male bias because of the under-representation of women in (democratic) political institutions.[21] Apart from that, gender images and relations, which have a huge impact on gendered participation and representation in (democratic) political institutions, are again not at issue. The same applies to approaches focusing on economic, legal, and political institutions in general (see Sauer 1996, 145-148; Filipic 2001, 27-30).

Among the micro-oriented approaches, especially the rational-choice approach has been widely used for researching the transformation processes in East Central Europe. It focuses on influential protagonists in the transformation processes, many of them being active in (democratic) institutions. This approach is also biased in various ways. It focuses, for instance, on powerful elites and their interests and consequent actions during the transformation processes. The majority of citizens are left out. The elite members’ cultural and social background is not considered, since only their rational choice between a certain number of possible options is of interest for this approach. Thus, it overlooks crucial aspects and structures that influence and often determine decisions of elite members. In addition to the elite-bias, a gender-bias is once again noticeable, since women are hardly to be found among influential elites in the former state socialist countries. Besides, this approach does not consider gender relations and images that are a decisive part of the aforementioned cultural and social background of the protagonists and also determine the gendered structure and composition of elites (see Sauer 1996, 137-151; Kreisky 1996, 10; Waldrauch 1994, 33-37; Merkel 1999, 78-107; Zapf 1996, 169-173; Schmidt 1996, 191; Pappi 1996, 237-238).

To sum up, the mainstream approaches to theorizing and researching the transformation processes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe are rather diverse and have various flaws each. In addition to these flaws, many of them consider Western models of politics, state, and economy as role models or measurements for the former state socialist countries’ ‘progress.’ Meanwhile, the failures and flaws of these Western models are widely ignored or even justified (see Sauer 1996, 157; Filipic 2001, 15). Despite numerous differences that exist between them, all these approaches have one thing in common: a general absence of gender or gender relations in their concepts and categories. They are male biased and gender blind. Consequently, they overlook or ignore decisive circumstances, facts, and processes during the transformation.[22]

2.4 Feminist Approaches to Researching and Theorizing Transformation Processes in East Central Europe after the Implosion of State Socialism

Feminist analysis of the transformation processes has often been focusing on the situation of women in the region.[23] Thereby, women have frequently been presented as victims of the changes since the implosion of state socialism. Female activities and responsibilities have often been overlooked. Gender relations as well as “the gendering of social processes have so far received little attention” (Gal and Kligman 2000a, 5). Beside that, the emphasis has been on analyzing national and internal processes without looking at the bigger picture of international forces that influence and determine these processes in a decisive way (see Sauer 1996, 132; Molyneux 1995, 641; Gal and Kligman 2000a, 5). In this regard, Maxine Molyneux also stresses the need to “relate the analysis of postcommunism to the extensive theoretical work and ongoing debate on the effects of markets on gender relations, and of economic and political liberalization more broadly” (Molyneux 1995, 641).

Despite these absences and shortcomings in various feminist works on the transformation processes in East Central Europe to date feminist approaches have already revealed numerous interconnections, processes, reasons for and outcomes of changes that mainstream approaches ignore or turn a blind eye to. In the future, after absences have been filled and the approaches have been further developed, even more insight will be given into local, regional, national, and global processes, changes, and influences, and “the various ways in which gender has been a factor in the current transformations” (Gal and Kligman 2000a, 4).

Considering the absences and shortcomings mentioned above, I am trying to point out female activities and responsibilities during the transformation processes as well as international forces and influences in my work. Apart from that I am going beyond national borders and internal processes by looking at the bigger picture of changes in the East Central European region, paying special attention to gender relations.

Before applying a feminist approach with gender as a central category of analysis to the subject matter of this thesis,[24] I have to define crucial terms in this regard. These are ‘gender,’ ‘gender relations,’ and ‘gender regime.’

2.4.1 Gender, Gender Relations, and Gender Regimes

‘Gender’ refers to the socially and culturally constructed ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman within a certain society.[25] These ideas can and actually do change over time and vary from culture to culture, from society to society. It is also important to realize, that there is not a single idea of femininity or masculinity in one society. These ideas may differ according to social stratum, ethnicity, religion etc. Two sources have a particularly crucial impact on the formation of gender. These are “the world of everyday practice, in which individuals are confronted with a set of factors that shape the available possibilities for action [….] [and] the world of discourse, contained in traditional and popular culture, mass media reporting, and especially advertising” (Marody and Giza-Poleszczuk 2000, 152). While the former “defines the range of opportunities and constraints that shape individual actions; the world of discourse offers idealizations of appearance, personality, and behavior that become attached to gender and gender relations” (Marody and Giza-Poleszczuk 2000, 152). Thus, what it means to be a man or a woman is defined on an individual level as well as on a broader social level. Gender images are not static, but steadily in flux. Despite the differences in ideas of masculinity and femininity and the consequent gender relations, gender is always an “organizing principle” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 5) in society. As Valentine M. Moghadam argues, “[t]he concept of gender refers to a social relationship between men and women predicated on the notion of difference, historically translated into inequality, and reinforced by law, custom, and socialization” (Moghadam 1993b, 2). At the same time, gender images and gender relations inform law, custom, and socialization. A reciprocal process is at work here: “Not only do state policies constrain gender relations, but ideas about the differences between men and women shape the ways in which states are imagined, constituted, and legitimated” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 4). The same applies to markets, economies, institutions, and other social bodies. They form and are formed by ideas of femininity and masculinity (see Marody and Giza-Poleszczuk 2000, 151; Moghadam 1993b, 2-3; Sauer 2000, 53-58).

As already mentioned, ideas of masculinity and femininity determine gender relations. The latter can vary according to differences in masculinities and femininities. As Isabella Bakker says, gender relations are “social constructions (social forces and historical structures) that differentiate and circumscribe material outcomes for women and men.” They can be seen as interplay of “historical practices that are distinguished according to masculine and feminine (theories and ideologies, including religious ideas), institutional practices (such as state and market), and material conditions (the nature and distribution of material capabilities along gender lines)” (Isabella Bakker quoted in Sauer 2000, 55).

At this point, I would like to introduce the term ‘gender regime.’ According to Robert W. Connell, a gender regime is “the historically produced state of play in gender relations within an institution” (Robert W. Connell quoted in Sauer 2000, 55). It consists of a “gendered division of labor and structure of power” (Hauser referring to Robert W. Connell and Katherine Verdery, 1995, 78). Thus, ‘gender regime’ refers to the ‘ formal and informal organization of power which is connected to and derived from gender differences. It defines access to power and consequently determines the relations between those in power and those who are powerless and subject to the rule of the powerful.’ As Birgit Sauer argues, gender regimes mean ‘permanent forms of male power, which are more stable than governments’ (see Sauer 2000, 55-56). Like ideas of masculinity and femininity and the consequent gender relations, gender regimes may also vary in time and space. But all of them perpetuate gender inequality and male dominance (see Sauer 2000, 56).

Since power is at the center when it comes to gender regimes, I consider the latter to be a useful framework for my analysis of gendered power and power relations in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe. In order to be able to apply this framework I have to define its central issues. These are the public – private dichotomy and the division into productive and reproductive work (see Sauer 2000, 56).[26] These issues deeply influence the three key spheres mentioned in the introduction, where I think power and power relations manifest themselves, namely in work, politics, and reproduction. Public – Private Dichotomy

The discussion about the public – private divide goes long back in history. A wide range of writings has been dealing with it. Still, it is hard to find a clear definition of what is private and what is public. Thinkers of different political and theoretical schools of thought agree “that the public/private distinction is crucial in understanding relations between families, political structures, and economic processes” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 39), but their characterizations of the dichotomy and its historical development differ from each other. In general, three dimensions of ‘privacy’ have been distinguished: “the realm of moral and religious values; economic rights; and domestic, sexual, reproductive matters” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 39). In (these) private spheres, people are supposed to make their own, personal, and individual decisions, while the state is not supposed to interfere with or intrude into these ranges of their thoughts and/or actions (see Steven Lukes quoted in Einhorn 1993b, 60). The public – private distinction, however, is not stable.[27] It is not only culturally specific, but has also been varying over time in response to political and economic changes.[28]

‘Public’ and ‘private’ are structural categories that oppose, define and constitute each other (see Gal and Kligman 2000b, 39-40). They can be used to “characterize, categorize, organize, and contrast virtually any kind of social fact: spaces, institutions, groups, people’s identities, discourses, activities, interactions, relations” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 41). Gal and Kligman describe the public – private dichotomy as a fractal distinction, which is recursively applicable. This means, that it can be reproduced and projected onto a broader or a narrower context. Consequently, any activity or identity can be split into public and private parts, which means that any public activity contains a private sphere and vice versa, and this sphere can again be split into public and private parts etc. (see Gal and Kligman 2000b, 41).

The public/private distinction has often been aligned with other dichotomies, like us/them, male/female, masculinity/femininity etc. These alignments have also been flexible. Historically, ‘public,’ for instance, has not always been associated with ‘male.’ The alignment of ‘private’ with ‘female’ and the sphere of reproduction, and of ‘public’ with ‘male’ and the political and economic sphere outside the home can be seen as “a response to the arrangements of work and family life in European capitalism and industrialization“ (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 43). Thus, separate spheres for men and women were created, with men being breadwinners and women the ones responsible for reproductive work. In reality, however, this separation was not so clear. Working class women, for instance, soon started to be active in industrial production outside the home, contributing to the family income. Peasant women had been doing their share of agricultural labor all along. Bourgeois women, being responsible for the household management, frequently took on servants to do domestic work. Nurses and nannies took care of babies and elder children. This intrusion of paid workforce into the household contradicted the ideal of the private home based on kinship, love, and women’s emotional support. The link of women and femininity to the private and men and masculinity to the public sphere remained, though. Legislation, economic and welfare systems have been supporting and fostering this linkage and have been making women dependent on men in various ways. Due to the male breadwinner system, for instance, welfare systems have been favoring men, providing insurance for male workers, who have been regarded as supporters of the family. Their wages have also generally been higher than female workers’. This, of course, has been reinforcing the gendered division of labor in the public and the private spheres (see Gal and Kligman 2000b, 43-45).

Crucial in regard of the public – private divide is the application of value and meaning to each sphere. In science or politics, for instance, high importance and meaning is assigned to the public, male-associated sphere, while the private, female-associated sphere is very much neglected.[29] Productive – Reproductive Work Divide

Dealing with the public – private dichotomy, I have mentioned the gendered division into productive and reproductive work. While the former is linked to the public, the latter is linked to the private sphere. Corresponding gender associations are going hand in hand with this linkage. Throughout this thesis I will use the following general definitions of productive and reproductive work: Productive work, linked to the economy and to politics, is (mostly) paid, and yields a product that can be exchanged for money or other material compensation. Reproductive work is (mostly) unpaid and does not yield a product. It is ‘only’ necessary for the reproduction of energy and the well-being of the members of a family or a household, especially through housework, physical and mental care, and for the procreation and the upbringing of the offspring.

As mentioned above, this division is gendered in various ways. Men are generally associated with productive work and women are generally associated with reproductive work. Besides, the productive work sphere is adjusted to male life patterns and customs. Women who “deviate[s] from the standard” (Scott 1974, 16) have to adjust themselves to it. As Hilda Scott says about state socialist reality, “socialism [….] would not alter the reality that the working world into which women stepped from the kitchen had been arranged and structured by men for their own convenience, and that any inability to adapt to these arrangements on the part of women would be regarded as a female short-coming” (Scott 1974, 140). This statement does not only fit the state socialist reality. It can rather be applied to the global situation in the work sphere. The Women’s International Network, for instance, issued a review of women’s employment and global discrimination in 1994 concluding that it is the men “who are responsible for how the labor market is structured and for the failure to make the necessary changes” (Anonymous/WIN News 1994, 77) for women’s and men’s equal integration. What makes women’s life pattern different from men’s is especially their responsibility for most of the reproductive work. This is due to their ability to give birth, but also to the “socially, and often officially, constructed” (Corrin 1992a, 3) view that nurturing and physical as well as mental caring abilities are typically female abilities.

As discussed above, high importance and meaning is assigned to the public, male-associated sphere, while the private, female-associated sphere is very much neglected. This state of affairs has corresponding implications for the evaluation of work done in each sphere. Thus it is not surprising that reproductive work is hardly rewarded in contrast to productive work. Women spend a lot of time and energy on reproductive work, which consequently prevents them from full participation in productive work. They spend much more time than men in a hardly rewarded, unpaid, neglected work sphere. This work division enables men to be more or almost exclusively active in the productive work sphere, where they earn money or other material compensation (see for instance Anonymous/WIN News 1999a). This material reward together with social benefits like health and pension insurance that are often going hand in hand with productive work and, last but not least, social importance, meaning, and value assigned to it, give those active in productive work a more powerful position in society than those doing reproductive work.

This unequal distribution of power due to the productive – reproductive work divide is also noticeable in the political sphere. The same mechanism as in the work sphere works here too: Time and energy spent on reproductive work are lacking when it comes to being politically active. In other words, those who are most active in (unpaid) reproductive work have less time, energy, and money left for being active in politics. Since political activity often involves power, those who are prevented from this activity due to their reproductive responsibilities are also excluded from this power. Besides, formal political structures and political culture are also male-dominated (see Karl 1994, 8) and adjusted to men and their life patterns.

All in all, the link between powerlessness and reproductive work is obvious: The time and energy spent on reproductive work are consequently lacking when it comes to being active in productive work or politics that involve power and prestige. Besides, experience in the private sphere of reproductive work is hardly acknowledged as qualification in the public sphere of productive work (see for instance Anonymous/WIN News 1999a, 21). Even though it is an exaggerated generalization to say that men (generally) do productive work and are more active in politics, while women (generally) do reproductive work; this generalization demonstrates a very unequal gendered division of responsibilities and the corresponding patterns of power or powerlessness in these spheres. Many women and men do both, productive and reproductive work, and are politically active. But the gendered public – private divide as well as the gendered productive – reproductive work divide which is linked to the former divide make sure that responsibilities and power or powerlessness are not shared equally, but along gender divides. Work, Politics, and Reproduction in the Light of the Public – Private and the Productive – Reproductive Work Divide

I would now like to come back to the three areas I chose to do research on gendered power distribution and power relations in: work, politics, and reproduction. At this point, I would like to make a clear distinction between ‘reproductive work’ and ‘reproduction.’ While ‘reproductive work’ includes work necessary for the reproduction of energy and the well-being of the members of a family or a household, especially through housework, physical and mental care as well as the procreation and the upbringing of the offspring, ‘reproduction’ here refers only to childbearing and childrearing.

In all three areas, which are interrelated in many ways, the two divides I have discussed above, namely the public – private and the productive – reproductive work divide, play a crucial role. Work, for instance, includes both (paid) productive work, associated with the public, as well as (unpaid) reproductive work, associated with the private sphere. In politics, one can make a distinction between formal, institutionalized and informal, not institutionalized political activity. Participation in productive and/or reproductive work decisively determines the possible scope and area of political activity and the corresponding share of power. Reproduction is located at the margins of the public – private divide. It is both a public concern insofar as states or ethnic groups, for instance, are interested in the procreation of their people. At the same time it is a very private concern when women and men decide individually if and when to have children (see Gal and Kligman 2000b, 18-30; Einhorn 1993b, 67). In all of these areas it is crucial to consider the public-private dichotomy as a fractal distinction. As explained above, this means that any public activity contains a private sphere and vice versa, and this sphere can again be split into public and private parts etc.

In the following chapters I will try to determine the gendered distribution of power in the three areas of work, politics, and reproduction in the light of the public – private and the productive – reproductive work divide. The following categories will be central to my analysis: Regarding work, these will be access to productive work, pay differentials, horizontal and vertical segregation of the labor market; regarding politics, these will be quantitative and qualitative representation in decision-making political bodies; regarding reproduction, these will be the scope of reproductive freedom for women, the scope of instrumentalization of reproduction for economic and/or political purposes, the scope of discrimination in other spheres because of reproduction. With the help of these categories I hope to be able to describe what the gendered power relations look(ed) like in the countries under consideration, if they have changed during the transformation processes after the implosion of state socialism, and if yes, in which way.

State Socialism

3.1 Theoretical Background. Ideas about Gender Equality and Emancipationof Women.

Before dealing with gender relations under state socialism, it is important to look at their ideological and theoretical background as well as the historical development of the socialist movement. During the 1840s, the first socialist workers’ movements started their fight against the capitalist social order. Karl Marx’s and Friedrich Engels’s analytical and theoretical writings formed a foundation for the programs of the socialist labor movements that eventually formed communist parties and ultimately established socialist governments (see Scott 1974, 28). [30] [31] The Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels was a clear statement for the international unity of the working class in their fight for their rights and their liberation by means of political action. The Manifesto was the document of the first international communist organization, the Communist League. While the latter disbanded after factional quarrels, the Manifesto remained. By 1864, another attempt was made to unite socialist workers across national boundaries. The International Workingmen’s Association (I.W.A.) was founded, with Marx as its theoretical as well as practical leader. Despite a general sentiment among workers for a ban on women’s participation in industrial work, the I.W.A.’s congress rejected the call for the exclusion of women from employment. Moreover, it allowed the affiliation of women’s trade unions and encouraged special legislation protecting women from harmful working conditions (see Scott 1974, 49-52).

3.1.1 Marx and Engels – a Promising Start with Several Flaws

At this point, I would like to turn to selected parts of Marx’s and Engels’s ideas about women and emancipation. In their joint work, The Holy Family, Marx and Engels declared, relating to Charles Fourier, that the emancipation of women was an indicator of a society’s general emancipation. Marx considered the status of women to be a barometer for a society’s level of humanity (see Marx and Engels 1968-71, 205-208). On several occasions, Engels expressed that he was aware of women’s multifaceted oppression in public and private life (see Meyer 1985, 17). In The German Ideology (1845-46) he wrote together with Marx about the situation of women in the nineteenth century. On the one hand, they addressed the working class woman’s double exploitation in the home as well as in the labor force. On the other hand, they showed the inhumane fate of the bourgeois woman who was completely owned by her husband. Marx and Engels regarded the bourgeois patriarchal monogamous family as an institution based on property and used by the ruling class to accumulate wealth in their hands. Marriage was therefore just a means to consolidate and expand property, which also meant that the wife had to be faithful to her husband in order to insure the legitimacy of his heirs. Marx and Engels believed the state to be the ruling class’s instrument for the protection of their properties and for the control and suppression of the working class. They saw a connection between property, classes, the state and the bourgeois monogamous family (see Scott 1974, 30-33).

Marx was convinced that the class antagonisms of the 19th century were not natural, but the result of certain historical conditions. He regarded primitive communism as the first form of social organization in mankind’s history. Property and social institutions must have grown out of it. For scientific proof for the historical development of property and social institutions Marx and Engels referred to the research of the American anthropologist Lewis H. Morgan. Morgan had done fieldwork among American Indian tribes and had come to the conclusion that the level of skills in producing the means of subsistence characterized certain stages in the development of mankind. He wrote that at the beginning group, marriage and matrilinage prevailed in a society of common ownership. Since the father of a child could hardly be identified under promiscuous circumstances, it was the mother’s line of descent through which possessions and status were inherited. In Morgan’s opinion, this fact together with her highly valued reproductive work gave the woman a dominant position in the household as well as prestige and authority within the tribe. All this started to change after man further developed his skills of production and eventually became able to produce more than he consumed. He could now accumulate private property, which he did not want to share with the community anymore, but wanted to pass on to his offspring. In order to be able to do so he had to be able to identify his children. For this reason, group marriage and promiscuity had to come to an end (see Scott 1974, 33). Growing differences in possessions among the heads of the communist household eventually contributed to its final break up. The result was the patriarchal monogamous family, which became a society’s new economic unit (see Engels 1975).

These research results seemed to show that matriarchy was the earliest form of social organization. And they gave hope, too: if the nineteenth-century patriarchal monogamous family and the extreme suppression of women, which goes along with it, had a historically determinable beginning, it could be expected to have an end as well (see Scott 1974, 34).

Engels regarded the monogamian marriage as “the first class oppression with that of the female sex by the male.” (Engels 1948, 94). In his opinion, monogamy was “the first form of the family based not on natural but on economic conditions, namely, on the victory of private property over primitive, natural, common ownership.” (Engels 1948, 93). A woman was often forced into marriage because of economic reasons and there was hardly any way for her to escape. As a married woman she lacked the means and the rights to do so. Her husband had the power over her and her property. She had to be faithful to him, while the same did not apply to him. In this monogamous family, a man held a dominant position, because his work produced a surplus and he could accumulate wealth. Compared with this, a woman’s reproductive work lost its significance, and she failed to keep her supremacy in the house. Thus, a woman’s enemy was defined: it was the institution of private property, capitalism – not the male sex (see Scott 1974, 35).

To Engels’s mind, a man’s domination over a woman would come to an end in the modern family if, firstly both sexes would become equal before the law, and secondly if a woman began taking part in production outside the house. That would make her economically independent and hence free from male oppression (see Meyer 1985, 17). Housework should not require too much of her attention anymore either, so that it would not impede her productive work in public industry. In connection with this, Engels recalled the old communistic household where the household tasks and childcare had been a “public function” and “socially necessary industry” (Scott 1974, 36). He argued that with the passage of the means of production to common property the individual family would cease to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping and the care and education of the children would be performed by public institutions or in co-operatives (see Engels 1948, 108). To accomplish this, the abolition of capitalism was a necessity. This would be advantageous for both, working class as well as bourgeois women. The former would no longer be exploited as workers, and household burdens would be taken off their backs. The latter would be able to emancipate themselves by taking part in the labor force outside their home. Not only women but also society on the whole would profit by these changes. In Engels’s opinion, the family in the 19th century was based on economic necessities rather than on love or affection. Married couples and family members were often stuck with and economically dependent on each other. In a society without these economic dependencies relationships would be much more honest and fulfilling (see Engels 1968). A modern large-scale industry should make all this possible. As Marx wrote in his Capital, this industry would increase the importance of women and to a certain extent also of children because they would be needed for large-scale production. As a result, their role within the family would change. Women and children would not be confined to the home anymore. They could and would even be encouraged to earn money outside the house. This would give them a formerly unknown independence and enhance the equality among family members. The new economic base would create a higher form of family and gender relations. Beside the more important role given to women and children the large-scale industry would also seek to transform household tasks into a public industry (see Marx quoted in Engels 1968). Given the changes that had started with the industrial revolution, the old family model was not adequate anymore anyway. Engels emphasized the disastrous and demoralizing effects of a working class family where both parents and often children too had to work outside the home. The traditional family was in a state of disintegration, but so far society had not taken over the tasks this family could no longer fulfil. That should happen in the future when the family would no longer be the economic and social unit of society (see Engels 1976).

In theory, these ideas sound rather convincing. But the evolutionist view regarding societies, which Marx and Engels expressed in their writings, and the anthropological argument presented in The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State are problematic. Contemporaneous so-called ‘primitive’ societies like those described by Morgan, to which Marx and Engels relate in their work, exist parallel to Western civilization. They have their own history of development and do not represent “mankind’s childhood and will not grow up to be just like us,” as Hilda Scott says in her discussion of Marxist theory (Scott 1974, 37-38). Beside this, it is important to bear in mind that women’s positions, their roles and status can be very different from culture to culture. What is regarded as typically female in one society does not necessarily have the same meaning in another (see Scott 1974, 37). Adam Ferguson made an interesting observation that I would like to mention in this context. His interpretation of the original division of labor between women and men differs from that of Morgan. The latter found women’s reproductive work as being highly valued in the societies he did his research on. But to Ferguson’s mind it was indeed constantly heavy work that women had to perform in a state of slavery, while men could gain honours as warriors and hunters (see Ferguson 1986). To put it in a nutshell, the original division of labor in primitive communistic societies, as Marx and Engels called them, does not necessarily provide women with a dominant role. On the contrary, it can mean their suppression. And even if there is gender equality or moreover women’s domination to be found in those societies, it is rather problematic to deduce any generalizations for mankind’s development from there. As Hilda Scott says: “since preliterate peoples living today are not our ancestors but our contemporaries, we cannot learn anything about social relationships 50,000 years ago simply by projecting observations concerning these peoples into the past together with our own system of values” (Scott 1974, 39-40).

3.1.2 “As dynamite shatters the hardest rocks…..”

This has gradually been recognized in research and academia. In Engels’s days, however, this realization had not had taken place yet. His work with his hypotheses about the connection between the origins of property, the family, and the state had a strong influence on the new socialist movement in nineteenth-century Europe. August Bebel, the leader of the German Social-Democratic Party, which was the largest in Europe by that time, for example, took up Engels’s hypothesis and gave them wide circulation in his book Woman Under Socialism. He wrote for instance: “The reign of the mother-right implied communism; equality for all; the rise of the father-right implied the reign of private property, and, with it, the oppression and enslavement of women” (Bebel quoted in Scott 1974, 40). The German Social-Democratic Party held the leadership of the Second International, founded in 1889. Bebel was the popular head of the party, and his book raised serious attention within as well as outside labor circles. He discussed women’s issues from a perspective and in a depth unknown until then. Not only did Bebel treat the idea of women’s inferiority with contempt, but he also pointed out their capabilities and the importance of their personal and economic independence. To support his arguments he presented facts and figures as well as arguments and quotations (see Scott 1974, 54-55). As Hilda Scott says, his book is “about human beings and not factors in the production process” (Scott 1974, 55). He recognized that a woman “was not merely a bundle of maternal instincts or a class-conscious fighter, but yearned to be a ‘complete and useful member of society’” (Scott 1974, 55). In Bebel’s opinion, the ‘real and complete emancipation of women’ was a new idea that would have to be realized sooner or later. As it had happened to many great new ideas before, certain developments and conditions in society would gradually lead to its realization and spreading. Even if people were trying to oppose it in the beginning, it would be unavoidable. New technology, for instance, would ease domestic work and help to turn it into a public industry. Central kitchens and laundries, for example, would make private cooking and washing unnecessary. Technical as well as social developments pointed into a certain direction: While technical innovations would help women to get rid of more and more domestic chores, they would become more and more active in the world outside the house, mostly as workers but also as political activists. And they would not be prepared to return to stricter domestic confinements of former times. Bebel spoke and wrote in favor of women’s full participation in public life, which he regarded as one of the natural and unavoidable outcomes of social developments that were already leading to general changes in society. To his mind, it was just a question of time until society would take those changes into their own hands to speed them up and generalize them (see Scott 1974, 56 and Bebel 1973).[32]


[1] I would like to point out, that gender is not the only “social hierarchy” that leads to “political and economic injustice” (Tickner 2001, 6). It has to be seen in connection with other categories like ethnicity, class, religion, age etc. As Gal and Kligman argue, “gender is not equally important at all times and places” (Gal and Kligman 2000c, 424). Other factors like the aforementioned are sometimes more decisive when it comes to “access to employment, positions of authority, or vulnerability to poverty” (Gal and Kligman 2000c, 425). But still, in all the cases where I encountered the pattern described above, gendered hierarchies were particularly significant.

[2] I am deliberately using the term ‘transformation’ and not the frequently used term ‘transition’ when referring to the changes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe. As Susan Gal and Gail Kligman state, the term ‘transition’ “assumes evolutionary progress from one well-known ‘stage’ of history to another. [….] [It] assumes a theory of history in which all aspects of society change in concert and in the same direction” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 10-11). I see eye to eye with Gal and Kligman when they argue that this kind of “[s]tage-thinking and the concomitant expectation of predictable change make it as hard to notice genuine innovations as to take account of continuities with the past” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 11-12). I believe that it is exactly these continuities, the numerous influences from the pre-state socialist time, the state socialist era, from the West, and from the global arena that make the processes and changes in East Central Europe unique. This uniqueness is to be realized and acknowledged. To my mind, the term ‘transformation’ thus rather meets the requirements of an open and unbiased approach to researching and theorizing the changes in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe.

[3] Throughout my thesis, I will use the term ‘East Central Europe’ to label not only a geographical area, but rather the very complex and diverse “political ensemble of the former state socialist countries” (see Kreisky 1996, 19) in the region. This will include Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, respectively the Czech and Slovak Republics, the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Romania, Bulgaria, and the former Yugoslavia. As for the latter, I will only look at Slovenia in detail, since the war and its after-effects have not struck it as much as the other former Yugoslav republics, and the developments there are thus more comparable to those in the other former state socialist countries. I will also hardly refer to the former GDR, since its unification with the Federal Republic of Germany makes it a special case among the former state socialist countries.

[4] ‘State socialism’ refers to a society, a political, economic, and social system based on socialist and Marxist theory and ideas.

[5] Using the terms gender inequality or gender equality I am referring to unequal respectively equal chances and value of each gender in any sphere of life.

[6] A patriarchal pattern is characterized by a hierarchical differentiation between men and women, with lower status and value being assigned to women in most social and institutional spheres (see Eisenstein 1993, 308; Kreisky 1996, 19). Gal and Kligman further define patriarchies as operating “by excluding women from the ownership of the key resources necessary for successful participation in the public, but these resources, and the means of exclusion, will vary across different types of patriarchies” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 128).

[7] From now on, ‘countries under consideration’ always refers to the seven countries mentioned above that I did research on.

[8] As the definition of ‘power’ by Max Weber says, power means ‘any chance within a social relationship, to get one’s way, even if this is met by (stiff) opposition. Thereby it does not matter what constitutes the basis for this chance’ (see Weber 1956, 28). This definition tallies with Steven Lukes’s definition of the first level or expression of power. On that level, two sides face each other in a particular power struggle. The second level of power refers to structural power that is not limited to a certain situation. On that level, the opposing will cannot enter a power struggle with the powerful party because of structural reasons. On the third level, there is not even an opposing will anymore, because the powerful party’s power is not recognized as such (see Löffler referring to Nikolaus Hammer and Steven Lukes, 2001, 20-21). Terence Ball and Jeffrey Isaak add another component to these definitions of power by arguing that power does not only mean power over somebody, but also the power to do something or not. They define power as capacity, distinguishing between having power and using it (see Löffler 2001, 21). When I am referring to power in this work, I mean power in the broadest sense, including all the definitions mentioned above.

[9] Here, the sphere of politics includes formal and informal organized political activities, for instance, political parties, parliaments; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), dissident groups, etc.

[10] The work sphere includes (paid) productive work as well as (unpaid) reproductive work. I will define both later in more detail.

[11] Narrowly defined, reproduction here means childbearing and childrearing. Housework and other unpaid work necessary for the reproduction of energy and the well-being of the members of a family or a household is included in (unpaid) reproductive work (which also includes reproduction) I refer to above.

[12] This is also the case regarding secondary literature on socialist and Marxist theory. Dealing with the latter, I will mention Clara Zetkin, a feminist, who “joined the Marxist movement and became prominent in it” (Meyer 1985, 19). Of course there have been other prominent women in the movement like Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaia (coming from Tolstoyan pacifism), Aleksandra Kollontai (coming from Christian orthodoxy), or Rosa Luxemburg (coming from early radical socialism) that influenced the movement, but whom I did not mention in particular (see Meyer 1985, 19). The reason for this is that Zetkin was the only one with a feminist background, fighting for an improvement of women’s position from a feminist perspective.

[13] As ‘East Central Europe,’ ‘West’ or ‘Western’ are also not only geographical references. These terms rather refer to a complex and diverse ensemble of democratic countries with free market economies.

[14] Regarding authors from the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe, one has to keep in mind that the works of many of them are not being published in the West and their views and analysis are hardly (made) known beyond the borders of their countries. In this connection Gal and Kligman also point to the “notable differences in access to money and influence between those studying East Central Europe from the ‘inside’ and those coming from the ‘outside’ to do so” (Gal and Kligman 2000b, 7).

At this point, I would like to mention the discrepancies, conflicts, and misunderstanding between authors and researchers from East Central Europe and the West in general. They are particularly due to different concepts, categories, and approaches, originating in different historical and social backgrounds. For an interesting analysis of conflicts and misunderstandings among feminist authors and researchers in this regard see, for instance, Nanette Funk’s article “Feminism East and West,” in: FUNK, Nanette and MUELLER, Magda (eds.), 1993: Gender Politics and Post-Communism. Reflections from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. (Routledge: New York and London) pp. 318-330.

[15] I would like to emphasize geographical differences and deviations from the general overview of IR debates I will give in the following passage. For details see for instance von Beyme 1996, 15-17.

[16] Liberal scholars challenged the state-centrism of the realists and emphasized the influence of other transnational powers, especially economic forces in IR. Marxist scholars focused on asymmetries in growth and development caused by a global capitalist system (see Tickner 2001, 24).

[17] As Tickner argues, “IR feminists have [….] identified with postpositivist epistemologies in IR, which they feel can provide better ways to understand the gendered structures and practices of world politics” (Tickner 2001, 35).

[18] I will not discuss the failures of political science, particularly IR regarding prognoses and predictions concerning state socialism and the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe any further. But I would like to emphasize how important these failures and the consequent crisis were for a transformation and reorientation within the discipline itself (see footnote 19).

For more information and details about failures in prognoses and wrong predictions see, for instance, the chapter „1989: Ein säkulares Ereignis und seine Folgen für das Selbstverständnis der Sozialwissenschaften,“ in: BEYME, Klaus von, 1994: Systemwechsel in Osteuropa. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp).

[19] As Sauer argues, research and theorizing about the transformation in the former state socialist countries of East Central Europe provided the opportunity for political science to turn into a social science discipline, with its own specific scientific methods and categories. In connection with this, she also sees a deliberate or unconscious immunization strategy against feminist challenges to the discipline (see Sauer 1996, 156-158).

[20] For more details on different strands of democratization theories see, for instance, Manfred G. Schmidt’s article “Der Januskopf der Transformationsperiode. Kontinuität und Wandel der Demokratietheorien,“ in: BEYME, Klaus von and OFFE, Claus (eds.), 1996: Politische Theorien in der Ära der Transformation. Politische Vierteljahresschrift. Sonderheft 26/1995. (Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag) pp. 182-210.

[21] I will discuss this female under-representation in democratic institutions in greater detail later on.

[22] In this regard, I see eye to eye with Susan Gal and Gail Kligman who argue that “in the understanding of these apparently ungendered [transformation] processes a consideration of gender is crucial. This is because a gendered perspective highlights aspects of the post-socialist transformation that have been taken for granted, thereby recasting and sharpening our understanding of change” (Gal and Kligman 2000a, 3).

[23] See for instance Chris Corrin (ed.) 1992d; Barbara Einhorn 1993a; Nanette Funk and Magda Mueller (eds.) 1993; Valentine M. Moghadam (ed.) 1993a; Tanya Renne (ed.) 1997a; and others.

[24] Applying a feminist approach to the subject matter of my thesis, I do not want to position myself in feminist theoretical debates and thus use a particular approach. I will rather stick to what all IR feminist approaches have in common, namely their use of “gender as a central category of analysis” (Tickner 2001, 5) and the main concern to “explain women’s subordination, or the unjustified asymmetry between women’s and men’s social and economic positions” (Tickner, 2001, 11).

Before I go ahead, I would like to point out that feminist approaches fulfil the general requirements of theory work in political science. As Eva Kreisky says, these requirements consist of ‘maximum analytical returns’ as well as ‘practical relevance.’ This is to say that theory work should ‘reveal social and political phenomena that have been unnoticed or unacknowledged to date. It should further give explanations for visible as well as hidden social and political structures and events. Consequently, it should point to possible junctions for necessary changes in society and politics’ (see Kreisky 1997, 162).

[25] I would like to emphasize that there are societies with more than two genders (male and female). Due to the cultural context in the countries I am doing research on, however, the male/female gender divide seems to be sufficient for my theoretical approach and research.

[26] Since the countries I am doing research on belong to the so-called ’industrialized world,’ a theoretical framework consisting of the ‘gender regime’ concept and its central issues, namely the public – private dichotomy and the division into productive and reproductive work, is applicable.

[27] For a theoretical contemplation of the state’s role in the determination of public and private issues see, for instance, Marion Löffler’s article “Herrschaft als zentrales Konzept zur Entschlüsselung der Geschlechtlichkeit des Staates,” in: KREISKY, Eva; LANG, Sabine; SAUER, Birgit (eds.), 2001: EU. Geschlecht. Staat. (Wien: WUV) pp. 15-32. In this regard, Löffler also discusses the importance of ‘explicit und implicit government or rule’ in a society as well as its gendered implications.

[28] See for instance recent legislation on domestic violence (in numerous Western countries), which brings this formerly exclusively private issue into the public, opening the public’s eyes to it and giving victims of domestic violence at least a legal tool to seek help outside the narrow confines of privacy.

[29] Political science, for instance, has been focusing its research and theorizing on the public sphere, turning a blind eye on private circumstances and processes, and thus on crucial determinants for public structures and processes. Only recently have political scientists, especially those using feminist approaches, started to consider private issues as well.

[30] Emancipation means the breaking away from social, mental, political etc. dependences (see Ulrich Weiss’s definition in NOHLEN, Dieter (ed.), 2001: Kleines Lexikon der Politik. (München: C.H. Beck) p. 77).

[31] As for the difference between the terms ‘communist’ and ‘socialist’, I would like to refer to Marx and Engels. They theorized and planned a society characterized by freedom, friendship, and equality. In their writings, ‘Communism’ refers to this ideal state, while ‘Socialism’ refers to the way leading there (see Fritzsche 1996, 19).

[32] Klara Zetkin quoted in Scott 1974, 58.


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transformationsprozesse post-kommunismus eu-erweiterung geschlechterforschung frauen



Titel: A Mosaic of Gendered Power Imbalances