Extractive industries as sites of supernormal profits and supernormal patriarchy?

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This article considers how patriarchal power relations between men and women are produced and reproduced within extractive industries, and examines the idea that the ‘supernormal profits’ to be made there encourage the development of ‘supernormal patriarchy’. By looking at the sites where extraction takes place and relationships between men and women within these sites, we show the extreme and exaggerated gender roles and relations that are found here. We nuance this account by highlighting the need to recognise that patriarchal power is not felt equally by all women and men. Exploring the different roles women adopt in the extractives context we demonstrate the fluidity of women’s identities as workers, ‘whores’, and wives with a focus on transactional sex. The article demonstrates the importance of not seeing women merely as victims of patriarchal relations, or making assumptions about how these relations operate, or the form they take. Better understanding of the range of gender roles adopted in the extractives and the supernormal patriarchal relations that produce and reproduce these is needed by policymakers. This will enable them to promote gender equality and natural resource justice, as part of an agenda to redistribute wealth gains from natural resource extraction.

This article is hosted by our co-publisher Taylor & Francis. For the full table of contents for this and previous issues of this journal, please visit the Gender and Development website.