After a decade and a half of frenetic economic activity in the West, now often
remembered as a boom period, the semicollapse of the global financial sys-
tem in 2007–8 inaugurated a set of profound cultural shifts. During the boom
the celebration of a market mind- set overarching all aspects of life coincided
with an intensification of polarized gender norming that we and others have
written about under the aegis of postfeminism. Postfeminist culture’s key
tropes—a preoccupation with self- fashioning and the makeover; women’s
seeming “choice” not to occupy high- status public roles; the celebration of
sexual expression and affluent femininities—are enabled by the optimism
and opportunity of prosperity (or the perception of it). Framed by what com-
mentators have dubbed the Great Recession, this book asks whether and to
what extent the conceptual and theoretical accounts of gender developed in
an earlier and distinctly different economic era still apply.
While fields ranging from economics to sociology to equality studies
have much to contribute in analyzing the recession’s social character, media
studies offers a unique disciplinary pathway for interpreting recession cul-
ture given its focus on the analysis of collective symbolic environments that
hold enormous sway in shaping public views. Indeed, we contend here that
our economic lives are both shaped by and embedded within popular and rep-
resentational culture. As a consequence, any account of the economic con-
ditions of the global recession will be incomplete without taking into con-
INTRODUCTION DIANE NEGRA AND YVONNE TASKER
Gender and Recessionary Culture
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