Politics on the Margins: Restructuring and the Canadian Women's Movement


95 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-895686-47-4
DDC 305.42'0971




Reviewed by Margaret Conrad

Margaret Conrad is a history professor at Acadia University and the
editor of Intimate Relations: Family and Community in Planter Nova
Scotia, 1759–1800.


This little book by one of Canada’s leading political scientists
offers a lucid and thoughtful analysis of the times in which we live.
While its focus is the fate of the women’s movement at the hands of
those whom the author calls “neoliberals” (but who are often called
neoconservatives), the discussion provides a useful frame through which
to view the larger drift toward the private, whether defined as markets
or as the domestic sphere.

The strength of this book is the stimulating discussion of how the
women’s movement has been marginalized in the transition from the
“postwar consensus” based on Keynesian economic and social policies
to the “neoliberal orthodoxy” devoted to maximizing profits,
reducing social spending, curtailing state regulation, and letting the
global market force the restructuring national economies. Arguing that
the inequality built into the new world order is neither desirable nor
inevitable, Brodie urges women to develop new strategies to address
present discontents.

By analyzing the historical evolution of public policy over the past
half-century and deconstructing the obscure, indeed obscene, discourse
that surrounds the present discussion of the debt, welfare dependency,
and feminism, Brodie offers a way of seeing the world that is at once
convincing and liberating for those who wonder what is to be done. Given
the success of neoliberalism, Brodie argues, it is no longer enough to
look to governments to correct the biases against women and other
marginalized peoples. Nor is it useful to indulge in nostalgic longing
for the welfare state, which offered its own set of negative
consequences for the dispossessed. Instead, she suggests that women and
others who oppose the new world order must work to deconstruct the
consensus upon which it is based. Only by so doing, Brodie concludes,
can people reclaim the public and recover the political, both of which
have been hijacked by a powerful coalition of forces. While the author
is short on specific ways of going about the deconstructing enterprise,
this book provides a context and rationale for those engaged in the
struggle for a better world than the one currently being constructed.


Brodie, Janine., “Politics on the Margins: Restructuring and the Canadian Women's Movement,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 3, 2023, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1928.