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Inequality Regimes in the Supermarket: Gender in the Aisles and at Home

Sat, August 12, 4:30 to 5:30pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 520A


The conceptual divide of the public market and private household conceals the gendered organization—or regime of inequality (Acker 2004)—of the supermarket. This paper will explore the gendered division of work on both sides of that divide, as well as the gendered consequences for women and society. Women are working in the grocery store in customer service and as check-out clerks, low-wage service positions that often do not lead to promotion. On the other side of the aisle, women shoppers are buying groceries for their households, driven by a food femininity that identifies successful femininity with caring for others through food. For some women, this cultural imperative is made more difficult due to race or class inequalities. However, without understanding women’s position both as waged workers and unpaid consumers, we cannot understand how the supermarket relies on a gendered order of inequality to operate. In general, taking a gender perspective allows us to see the process by which inequality regimes (Acker 2006) serve to remove responsibility from the market for foodwork, but disadvantage those who are culturally assigned to do it.


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