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Oil and Patriarchy

by Michael Ross. Reading for week of October 10, 2006.

The production of oil has a harmful effect on the economic and political status of women.  Oil production reduces the participation of women in the labor force by crowding out the economic sectors that tend to employ women.  Since fewer women work outside the home, they are less able to organize politically, less likely to lobby for expanded rights, and less likely to gain representation in government.  As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal institutions.  This argument is supported by global data on oil production and female work patterns, female political representation, and public opinion about gender relations.  The link between oil production and female status has implications for our understanding of Islam and the Middle East, modernization theory, and the economic and political ailment of resource-rich states.

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