Professor Prügl writes about agriculture and rural development in the EU.
Policies of trade liberalisation have significantly affected gender relations in the European countryside. The establishment of a common market in the 1960s in Western Europe and the transition to a free market since the 1990s in the East both entailed a consolidation of masculine rule. In contrast, the contemporary liberalisation of European agriculture and the associated policies of rural development have provided new economic opportunities for women.
Professor and Deputy Director at the Institute, Elisabeth Prügl’s new book Transforming Masculine Rule: Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Union provides an understanding of the connection between international policies and gendered local impacts. It explores the parallel European policies of trade liberalisation and the promotion of gender equality, and it traces the effects of these policies – through government programmes – on local contexts in Germany. It illustrates how the establishment of a European agricultural welfare state marginalised women working on German farms, and how feminist ideas in the 1970s empowered these women to demand an equal employment status. It shows further how the contemporary liberalisation of agriculture is transforming gender relations in the German countryside aided by policies of gender mainstreaming. These transformations differ in East and West Germany because international policies encounter different gender regimes created under capitalism and communism.
The book makes use of feminist state theory to conceptualise the transformation of masculine domination as entailing a confluence of state policies and social forces. In so doing, it theorises the European Union as an ‘international state’ described on the one hand by images of multi-level governance, and on the other hand by the creation of new state spaces that enable private partners to network with public administrations at local, national, and regional levels. The struggle of women farmers for an independent employment status in the 1970s and 1980s exemplifies politics in a multi-level system of governance. Gender mainstreaming of rural development programmes in the 1990s and the new century exemplifies politics in new state spaces. In both contexts, the book identifies mechanisms of power that divert, distract and sideline feminist interventions and thus guide the transformation of masculine domination, generating co-optations, subversions and normalisations. Drawing on extensive interviews in Brussels, Berlin, and two local German contexts (the Altmark region in the East and the Danube-Bavarian Forest region in the West) it provides vivid illustrations of these mechanisms.
Faculty member since 2009 and Deputy Director since 2010, Professor Elisabeth Prügl previously taught at Florida International University, where she co-directed the Miami-Florida European Union Centre of Excellence. Her research focuses on gender politics in global governance and feminism in international relations. In addition to having published numerous journal articles, book chapters and anthologies, she is the author of The Global Construction of Gender: Home-based Work in the Political Economy of the 20th Century (Columbia University Press, 1999).