Women in the Wage Economy: A New Gendered Division of Labor Amongst the Inuit

Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Susan Phillips

Reader 2

Bill Anthes

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Inuit constructions of gender in the pre-colonial period were centered around a gendered division of subsistence tasks. It is through this division of labor which gender roles, gendered socialization and spousal roles were formed. However, during the colonial period Inuit subsistence and the role it plays in Inuit society was rapidly and drastically changed. By analyzing the work of three different Arctic ethnographers documenting Inuit subsistence in different time periods and national contexts, this thesis will analyze how political, economic and environmental change in the Arctic has altered Inuit subsistence practices from European contact through the contemporary era. By analyzing how subsistence has changed overtime, this paper will assess the contemporary Inuit food system and the current crisis of food insecurity in Inuit communities. This analysis will be used to understand the social impacts of an evolving Inuit food system and how the emerging mixed wage and subsistence economy has constructed a new gendered division of labor in which Inuit women act as the primary providers of financial capital while men maintain access to natural resources through traditional subsistence pursuits.

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