The 2018 JSPE-Routledge Book Prize winner


The JSPE-Routledge Book Prize

The Japan Society of Political Economy (JSPE) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2018 JSPE-Routledge Book Prize. The JSPE is an interdisciplinary association devoted to the study, development, and application of political economy to social problems. It has been the largest organization of political economy and heterodox economists in Japan since its foundation in 1959, providing important occasions for developing and debating ideas about capitalism and its dynamics. The book prize is financially supported by Routledge, which is the world's leading academic publisher in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The prize promotes the study of political economy and heterodox economics throughout the world with the aim of challenging the dominant position of orthodox neo-liberal economics among economists and policy-makers. The prize is awarded annually to a living political economist based on his or her "lifetime achievement," as embodied in a distinguished book (or books) which reflects the analytical perspectives represented by the Japan Society of Political Economy.


The 2018 JSPE-Routledge Book Prize winner

The 2018 prize winner is Professor Diane Elson (the University of Essex) based on her two books, Male Bias in the Development Process, Manchester University Press, 1991, and The Feminist Economics of Trade, edited with Irene van Staveren, Caren Grown and Nilüfer Çagatay, Routledge, 2007.

Diane Elson is a British economist, sociologist and social scientist of gender and development. She is an emeritus professor at the University of Essex, a visiting professor at the Centre for Research on Women in the Scottish Economy, Glasgow Caledonian University. She has published widely research on relation of gender equality, human rights, and economic policy, globalization, multinational companies and International trade including on the feminist economics of trade. She is responsible for the foundation and development of Feminist Economics. In 2016, she was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. Elson has deep knowledge of Marx’s Value theory, labor theory, and has built the theoretical basis of an original unpaid work theory, care economy, etc. in feminist economics. Moreover, her studies which made full use of her extensive knowledge and statistical materials about the socioeconomic impact which gender order brings about, and her detailed present data analysis have given a new viewpoint to various fields, such as economic policy,development studies, and human rights and she has done the latest research on economic society and gender.

Elson's research has had a great influence on subsequent gender and social economics and research and development. For example, what kind of influence do gender relations and human rights have on economic growth and development. Analysis of the relationship between the political-economical effect of globalization including the transnational movement of the capital and the labor force, and gender order, etc. She is conducting further gender analysis of the macroeconomic policy of developed countries, especially fiscal policy, and she has excelled in analysis of the gender asymmetric effect which the austerity policy and tax break policy bring about.

Although she is a prolific writer on wide-ranging themes, in this selection committee, we selected two of her main works on gender and development, and gender relating to international trade as candidates for the Routledge International Award.

Male bias in the development process (1995) is the first. It is about the Export Processing Zone installed from the 1980's by governments of developing countries to push an export oriented growth strategy through direct foreign investment by multi-national companies using local subcontractors to provide their local labor force taking advantage of the patriarchal gender order of the society concerned.

This theory is now fundamental in the study of the relationship between gender order and the foundation of export oriented growth and serves as basic theory in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America at the present.

She has conceptualized Male bias (male imbalance) as "male imbalance in a company" which acts inside a business organization. She demonstrated the patriarchal gender order of the society concerned, and the influence of the development process. The development process accompanied by Male bias aligned with the gender order of the society concerned, especially in a labor-intensive industry, has a basic relationship with promoting women's labor force working to create an invisible competitive power in commodity production for export to world markets. Elson's analysis made it possible to lead the criticism to the neoclassical theory centering on "selection of the discriminatory employer by a market", and to materialize feminist economics as criticism of the economics of neo-classical theory, and to treat consideration of gender equality and human rights as a problem inside economics. 

The Feminist Economics of Trade (2007), which is the second candidate for recognition, developed the gender analysis in international economics, and clarified the position of feminist economics. In this book, while Elson examined international trade theory in the mainstream faction and heterodox economics and criticized the neoclassical theory of the perfect competition concept, she reappraised the doctrine of comparative advantage criticism by heterodox economics which predominantly paid attention to the absolute advantage of a competitive condition, and emphasized the importance of the relationship between global competitiveness and social environment. For the labor force, positive competition to labor cost reduction is performed per unit unlike general commodities. Capitalism points to externalization of the reproduction cost of labor force, and a fundamental inconsistency exists between economic growth and social reproduction.

Therefore, a procuration of a competitive advantage includes the gendered social process of mainly women bearing the unpaid burden of labor force reproduction cost. With such a relationship the gender gap became clear, demonstrating that they were many results of the division of labor in the unpaid care economy built socially.

Diane Elson furthers the gender analysis of economic growth, development, and international trade, she has demonstrated and developed as economics of neo-classical theory criticism of feminist economics. Each of the above mentioned works richly deserves the award of the Japan Society of Political Economy Routledge international prize.

Tetsuji Kawamura (Chairman of the JSPE)