Blog Post 1: Thoughts on connections between Austerity and the Ehrenreich & Hochschild piece

In class today we spoke of various social movements and protests that have made headlines within the last few years. We saw young adults protesting rising education fees in the UK, as well as the mass scale protests in Italy following the Irish bailout. Neither of these groups were afraid to use force; we saw groups vandalizing property and physical fighting across lines. The actors in these movements are responding to the European Union’s steps towards enforcing a more austere budget.  Austerity as a political concept revolves around a strict budget. So what’s the problem? Isn’t everyone happy to save some money?

Obviously not. The flow of money within the European Union has resulted in bailouts for some European countries and yet tightened budgets for others. The question of which sectors deserve the smallest cuts is a highly contested one in the EU at this time. It also applies around the world.  Who is really feeling the effects of these global money transfers? Who’s suffering?

“We are seeing serious disparities between the rich and the poor globally” is an absolutely true macrolevel statement. It reflects a theme popping up frequently in our class. We’ve read case studies and articles on this idea when we discussed economic globalization.Ehrenrich and Hochschild examine this theme on a more micro scale by looking at countries and cases (i.e. a woman from Sri Lanka) instead of operationalizing globally.

One thing that I am taking away from the Ehrenreich and Hochschild piece “Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy” is that most of the suffering in the world is endured by hidden populations. There are millions of women like Josephine who have had to migrate to find work due to economic displacement. Female migrants have moved to more developed capitalist and capitalist-like nations to find work. Where did they gain employ? The title of the piece is self-explanatory. Ehrenreich and Hochschild describe in their article the  “private ‘indoor’ nature of so much of the new migrant’s work” (532). The greater millions who are benefiting from this cheap migrant labor, why would they want to let go?

Cornel West spoke on the importance of recognizing and listening to suffering peoples in his address to a leftist forum. He urged his audience to show courage in standing up against inequality and injustice. He lectured on solidarity and being a catalyst. I really admire his message, and believe it is truth. We can’t all make a BIG difference in the world, and realistically not all us will. But if we can do little things everyday to contribute positively (or at least be a positive force in our own lives or the lives of others), then the effects are bound to be felt somewhere.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 Responses to “Blog Post 1: Thoughts on connections between Austerity and the Ehrenreich & Hochschild piece”

  1. After watching those clips on protesters, I really believe as Americans we don’t have the “gaul” to stand up and speak for our rights. Sure it happens once in a while but not enough to have our voices heard. We really are so scared to use force because of the image the rest of the world as portrayed us by. I think we need to stand up for ourselves and rights and get the word our there. I strongly believe we are as capable as the Lonson students to stand up and protest.

  2. Prof. Hala says:

    Love that spirit, Diana. There’s nothing more depressing to me than a sense of disempowerment, especially among young people. Like you say, not all of us need to be storming barricades, but it would be nice if more people acted “socially” (i.e., in the interest of others besides themselves) and didn’t just submit to the dominant doctrine of self-interest.

    Nice blog. Your linking of Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers to Cornel West’s talk, as different perspectives on related global problems — micro and macro — was very effective. Greater awareness of the nature of the links between women of rich and poor countries, Ehreneich’s and Hochshchild’s objective in that piece, is precisely the kind of social transformation that West lectured about. And, coincidentally, Ehrenreich actually follows West in that Left Forum panel. I will add the link.

  3. Prof. Hala says:

    Oh, another thing I forgot to mention – all the protest clips were from the past 4-5 months. Of course, protest has been up around the world over the last few years, increasing especially in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. But it’s truly amazing how far it’s spread and how much it’s intensified globally just since the start of this course. Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt alone were almost inconceivable only a few months ago — but the uprisings continue to spread and intensify, throughout the Arab world, and beyond. So much change and uncertainty in our times…

  4. msheridan100 says:

    Last year, there were some protests out in California due to dramatic tuition increases at UCLA and Berkeley. These riots did get violent, expressing the anger of the students and the retaliation of the police. Compare this with the ‘protest’ at Queens College a month ago… Americans definitely need to start speaking up and getting their voices heard.