Development workers and gender work in Lao PDR

Morton, Sam E. (2022) Development workers and gender work in Lao PDR. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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This thesis explores how national and international development workers do gender equality work in Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) and in turn how their work and living conditions are shaped by what Dorothy Smith calls “ruling relations.” Bringing together the growing literature on development workers and organizations, and the sociology of work, I propose the novel concept of the “intersectional maze” to help explain the embodied experience of (dis)orientation for workers navigating gendered and racialized organizational logics. I present data based on four months of research in Laos, 21 in-depth interviews, and participant observation. I find that development organizations should be understood as gendered and racialized organizations that hinder women’s and global South workers’ opportunities to reach senior level and decision-making positions, and that despite the use of transformative discourse, gender projects in Laos tend to ‘play it safe’ and focus on service delivery, rather than targeting structural change. As an exploration of the work of gender equality work, this thesis contributes to the recent and growing development literature on development workers and organizations and will be of interest to those working in development, researchers in humanitarian and development studies, sociology, anthropology, political science, and international relations.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15560
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 146-159)
Keywords: gender, work, intersectional maze, Lao PDR, international development, ruling relation
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: June 2022
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Equality--Laos; Sex role---Laos

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