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ROCKING OUR PRIORS
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ROCKING OUR PRIORS

Autor: Dr Alice Evans

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Dr Alice Evans and leading experts discuss growth, governance, & gender inequalities.

Alice is a Lecturer at King's College London, and Faculty Associate at the Harvard Kennedy School.
71 Episodes
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Indian Muslims have always been free to apply their own personal laws - concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance. Congress upheld legal pluralism, so as not to aggravate the minority. Modi has no such reservations. He is pursuing a Uniform Civil Code, and presents this as a victory for Muslim women. He's probably right. A UCC would improve gender equality - if women can claim their equal rights. To do so, they need economic autonomy and public safety. Full list of references: https://www.draliceevans.com/post/will-the-bjp-save-muslim-women
In a fascinating new paper, Per Fredriksson and Satyendra Gupta find that areas with low irrigation potential have higher female labour force participation and female property rights. Elsewhere, men cooperated between close kin, battled against outsiders for control over valuable irrigation, captured the gains of greater productivity, developed tight bonds of kinship, while women stayed at home. These irrigation societies also tended to become authoritarian, which constrains feminist activism. Paper: https://www.econstor.eu/bitstream/10419/225005/1/GLO-DP-0681.pdf Blog with pictures of irrigation systems: https://www.draliceevans.com/post/did-irrigation-entrench-the-patriarchy
Gender inequalities can persist alongside economic development. This is partly due to gender beliefs. Seldom seeing egalitarian alternatives or successful resistance, women may internalise their subordination and reluctantly comply with a seemingly unchangeable status quo.
Across the world, women have agitated for greater rights, freedoms, and protections, but with differing degrees of success. In some countries, feminist activists have mobilised widespread dissent, secured legal reforms, and pressed for enforcement. Elsewhere, they have been marginalised and maligned. What explains this international heterogeneity? Women are much more likely to collectively criticise unfair practices and organise for reform if they have economic autonomy, move freely in their communities, broaden their horizons through city-living, and become emboldened through civic resistance. Without these preconditions, feminist movements fail to take off. Warning: this is a very depressing post. It pinpoints obstacles in the Middle East, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. These include powerful religious authorities, underdevelopment, and female seclusion. To read more on this, check out the references on my blog: https://www.draliceevans.com/post/what-thwarts-feminist-activism
Argentina has just legalised abortion - thanks to relentless feminist activism. Latin America can now boast rapid social change: with rising female employment, soaring representation (outpacing Europe), protections for domestic workers, and ginormous rallies against sexist violence. This sharply contrasts with entrenched patriarchy in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. What is different about Latin America? I would stress relatively weak constraints on women's mobility, economic development and democratisation. These deep roots and disruptors create a fertile environment for sustained mobilisation. This is the audio version of my latest blog. It draws on a wealth of brilliant scholarship. Click here for the bibliography: https://www.draliceevans.com/post/why-is-feminist-activism-thriving-in-latin-america
Everyone knows that Southern and Northern India are very different in culture, language, and socio-economic development. But the most dramatic regional disparity may be in gender relations. Why is this? Is it due to.. Poverty Colonialism Matriliny Cousin marriage Conquests and purdah Labour-intensive cultivation Ancestral crop yields? If you would rather read than listen, the blog is here: https://www.draliceevans.com/post/why-are-southern-north-eastern-indian-states-more-gender-equal
Professor Joe Henrich (Harvard) presents his new book on 'how Westerners became psychologically peculiar and particularly prosperous'. He suggests that the Western Church eroded kinship in Europe, which enabled a process of cultural evolution, resulting in democratisation, innovation, and economic growth. I present an alternative hypothesis: through economic development, wage labour, non-familial employment, and rural-urban migration, people broaden their networks beyond kinship. So my suggestion is that economic development fosters cultural change. Let me know what you think!! Read more about Professor Henrich: https://henrich.fas.harvard.edu/ And his book: https://weirdpeople.fas.harvard.edu/
Support for gender equality has increased across the world, especially in cities. Why is this? And what does it tell us about the drivers of social change? World Bank talk, followed by insightful audience questions. Sharing in case it's of wider interest. My research in Zambia & Cambodia suggests that cities: (i) raise the opportunity costs of the male breadwinner model, (ii) increase exposure to women in socially valued roles, and (iii) enable diverse associations, so people can collectively contest established practices. Interests, exposure, and association then reinforce a snowballing process of social change. This work has been published in Gender & Society, and the Annals of the Association of American Geographers. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/327035036_HOW_CITIES_ERODE_GENDER_INEQUALITY_A_NEW_THEORY_AND_EVIDENCE_FROM_CAMBODIA https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320921459_Cities_as_Catalysts_of_Gendered_Social_Change_Reflections_from_Zambia
Here's the video of my interview with Professor Stasavage: https://youtu.be/T9VCP6ENJ6w We discuss his new book, "The Decline & Rise of Democracy".
Crops, technology, & exit options influenced whether societies became democratic or authoritarian - argues Professor David Stasavage. Rulers wanted to tax their people at the right level: extract the maximum revenue without making the goose hiss! Their strategy would depend on crop yields and technology. If caloric output is easy to predict (owing to stable temperature, irrigation, and other technology), rulers could easily calculate the agrarian surplus. But if caloric output varies each year (owing to changing weather patterns and primitive technology), prediction is difficult. Leaders could overcome these informational constraints either by surveying with bureaucrats or by soliciting council governance. Bureaucracies and councils performed the same role: providing information on crop yields. If rulers lacked bureaucratic technology, they would solicit council governance, to ascertain how much to tax. This gave rise to large-scale representative governance - argues Stasavage. In this podcast, we discuss whether this theory explains the dearth of democracy in China and MENA today, and the rise of the Communal Movement in Europe. It's a great read, though I remain sceptical.. There remains a further question: why were European but not Chinese or MENA societies able to collectively organise, and secure democratising reforms? Curious? Buy the book: https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691177465/the-decline-and-rise-of-democracy Further readings: Greif & Tabellini: http://piketty.pse.ens.fr/files/GreifTabellini.pdf Joe Henrich: https://weirdpeople.fas.harvard.edu/ Jonathan Schulz & others: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/366/6466/eaau5141/tab-article-info Frank Fukuyama: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Origins-Political-Order-Prehuman-Revolution/dp/1846682576 Klaus Mühlhahn: https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674737358
I've made a special episode of Rocking Our Priors. It's a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgnluTjB-YE Enjoy! So, which do you prefer? Audio or video?
Today I discuss 3 fantastic new books on work, families, and social change - C19-21. 'Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving', by Caitlyn Collins https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691178851/making-motherhood-work 'Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood', by Helen McCarthy www.bloomsbury.com/uk/double-lives-9781408870761/ 'Bread Winner: An Intimate History of the Victorian Economy' by Emma Griffin. yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300230062/bread-winner Also mentioned: 'Women's labour force participation in nineteenth‐century England and Wales' onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ehr.12876 'The Quiet Revolution That Transformed Women’s Employment, Education, and Family' by Claudia Goldin https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf 'Changes in the Labour Supply of Married Women' by Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn www.nber.org/papers/w11230.pdf 'From ‘MeToo’ to Boko Haram: A survey of levels and trends of gender inequality in the world' by Stephan Klasen https://www.nber.org/papers/w11230.pdf 'Women Forget That Men are the Masters : Gender Antagonism and Socio-economic Change in Kisii District, Kenya', by Margrethe Silberschmidt www.bookdepository.com/book/9789171064394
Why has China grown so fast for so long despite vast corruption? In China's Gilded Age, Professor Ang argues that not all types of corruption hurt growth, nor do they cause the same kind of harm. Ang reveals that the rise of capitalism was not accompanied by the eradication of corruption, but rather by its evolution from thuggery and theft to access money. In doing so, she challenges the way we think about corruption and capitalism, not only in China but around the world. This is an excerpt, read by Alice Evans. Professor Ang tweets @yuenyuenang Book details: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/yy-ang/chinas-gilded-age/
Nineteenth century Britain saw remarkable economic growth and a rise in real wages. But not everyone shared in the nation’s wealth. Unable to earn a sufficient income themselves, working-class women were reliant on the ‘breadwinner wage’ of their husbands. When income failed, or was denied or squandered by errant men, families could be plunged into desperate poverty from which there was no escape. Emma Griffin unlocks the homes of Victorian England to examine the lives – and finances – of the people who lived there. Drawing on over 600 working-class autobiographies, including more than 200 written by women, Bread Winner changes our understanding of daily life in Victorian Britain. The book: https://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?k=9780300230062 https://people.uea.ac.uk/e_griffin Professor Griffin's homepage: https://people.uea.ac.uk/e_griffin On Twitter: @EmmaGriffinHist This podcast is a few audio chapters, read by Dr Alice Evans.
Poor slum-dwellers are FOUR times less likely to believe that they will get a response when directly approaching an official than poor rural villager. So controlling for income, the slum dwellers are much more despondent about government - find Dr Gabi Kruks-Wisner (UVA) and Dr Adam Auerbach (American University). This reflects differing observations and expectations in urban and rural places. What rocked my priors is their argument that clientelism is not bad governance, it does not necessarily worsen outcomes. Perhaps it's just another mode of claims-making? Read her full paper here: https://krukswisner.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/auerbach_kruks-wisner_pop_2020.pdf If you'd like to hear more about "Claiming the State", check out my earlier podcast with Gabi. In the podcast, Gabi highlights Dr Tariq Tachil's paper how ethnographic research can improve surveys: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12116-018-9272-3 We also discuss my paper on Cambodia, which you can read here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0891243219865510 Dr Gabi Kruks Wisner is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Virginia: https://krukswisner.wordpress.com/ @gabi_kw She co-wrote this paper with Dr Adam Auerbach at American University https://www.american.edu/sis/faculty/aauerba.cfm @adam_m_auerbach
I read aloud my latest paper, "How Cities Erode Gender Inequality", published in Gender & Society: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0891243219865510 This is an experiment! Kindly recorded by the Harvard Kennedy School. One take, in my *slightly* theatrical style. Let me know what you think! :-)
Professor Sanchita Saxena shares insights on her new book on "Labor, Global Supply Chains, and the Garment Industry in South Asia". Key questions: - Why are garment wages so low in Bangladesh? - Why aren't wages improving? - What would enable higher wages? Buy the book: https://www.routledge.com/Labor-Global-Supply-Chains-and-the-Garment-Industry-in-South-Asia-Bangladesh/Saxena/p/book/9781138366800 Learn more about Professor Saxena's work, at Berkeley: https://southasia.berkeley.edu/sanchita-saxena
Professor Kathryn Sikkink (at the Harvard Kennedy School) argues that human rights laws, institutions, and movements are both legitimate and effective. We discuss whether human rights are western imperialism; whether rights movements help improve conditions for the masses; and what we still don't know about norm dynamics, but desperately need to find out! You can buy the book here: https://press.princeton.edu/books/hardcover/9780691170626/evidence-for-hope Professor Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, at the Harvard Kennedy School: https://carrcenter.hks.harvard.edu/people/kathryn-sikkink
Professor Daron Acemoglu discusses his new book, arguing that liberty and prosperity require strong states and strong societies. Alice asks where do strong societies come from? What explains the global heterogeneity in social capital, as well as labour coercion? Can his theory accommodate East Asia? And whether the state-society binary is really the best way to understand threats to liberty today? Professor Acemoglu is incredibly impressive. I do hope you enjoy this episode. Buy the book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/555400/the-narrow-corridor-by-daron-acemoglu-and-james-a-robinson/ Read more about Professor Acemoglu's work: https://economics.mit.edu/faculty/acemoglu
Professor Branko Milanovic, world-leading expert on income inequality, discusses his fascinating new book. We discuss: - Was communism necessary for indigenous capitalism? - How can we tackle rising inequality? - How to respond to the xenophobic backlash? & - Isn't climate breakdown exacerbating global inequality. For more details on the book: https://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674987593 For more about Professor Milanovic: Website: https://stonecenter.gc.cuny.edu/people/milanovic-branko/ Blog: http://glineq.blogspot.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan
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