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The Biopolitics of Gender$
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Jemima Repo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190256913

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190256913.001.0001

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The Demographic Problematization of Gender

The Demographic Problematization of Gender

(p.105) Chapter 4 The Demographic Problematization of Gender
The Biopolitics of Gender

Jemima Repo

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the appropriation of feminist discourses of gender by demographic science in the 1980s and 1990s—a major watershed in the biopolitical deployment of gender, which became a central mechanism for controlling population. From an overview of the demographic-economic transition theories in the postwar period, the chapter shows how population, fertility, and life were brought to bear on gender. Demographers concerned with declining fertility in Western Europe saw value in the “feminist” idea of gender, believing it might explain declining fertility and also provide a solution for the forecasted population decline that threatened Western economies. At the same time, neoliberal economist Gary Becker took an interest in gender roles and household decision making. Demographers and some economists saw gender as social norms through which women’s reproductive and productive labor could be reorganized, manipulated, and rendered more efficient. Gender became a new significant apparatus in the biopolitical governmentality of population.

Keywords:   demographic science, population, fertility, biopolitical governmentality, population decline, postwar period

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