‘I had to take control’: gendered finance rationality in the UK

Agunsoye, Ariane and James, Hayley. 2022. ‘I had to take control’: gendered finance rationality in the UK. Review of International Political Economy, 30(4), pp. 1486-1509. ISSN 0969-2290 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Bringing together insights from feminist political economy and everyday financialization, this paper explores the complex nature of women’s pension decisions. Women in the UK experience structural constraints originating from a pension system which ignores socially reproductive activities, and they face limitations in pension planning due to prevalent gender norms. Both aspects have a significant impact on women’s long-term financial wellbeing and yet little attention has been paid to how they operate within these constraints, ultimately leading to women’s behaviors being construed as passive or irrational. Drawing on 61 interviews, our paper conceptualizes pension practices adopted by women through gendered finance rationality, defined as variegated financial practices shaped by the gendered context in which they arise. Rather than being irrational or passive victims of an unequal welfare system, women actively engage with the limitations of the pension system and seek out asset strategies which seem more suited to their life trajectories, but implicitly reinforce gendered wealth inequalities.

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Additional Information:

Funding: The second interview set was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [grant number ES/J500094/1] and the Pensions Policy Institute, an independent research organization with a charitable objective to inform the policy debate on pensions and retirement income provision.

Data availability statement: Due to the nature of this research, participants of this study did not agree for their data to be shared publicly, so supporting data is not available.


Gender; gender norms; wealth inequality; finance; rationality; unpaid work

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


17 July 2022Accepted
23 August 2022Published Online

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Date Deposited:

24 Aug 2022 08:20

Last Modified:

11 Jul 2023 08:58

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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