Wages for Housework! This audacious, resolute and politically subversive demand on the part of Marxist feminists in the 1970s was underwritten by a theory of the social factory that challenged contemporary Marxist orthodoxy. More specifically, feminist analyses of the political economy of unwaged, largely but not exclusively domestic labour, questioned the centrality of the category of waged, productive, value-creating labour in Marx’s analysis of the movement of capital. Marx’s critique of value, according to the feminist challenge, ‘discounted’ unwaged, social reproductive labour and its crucial, instrumental function in the process of capitalist accumulation. In recent years, new iterations of this feminist critique of Marxian value theory have come to represent some of the most urgent, insightful and rich contributions to contemporary Marxist and feminist theory. This talk will presuppose a cursory familiarity with the challenge to Marx’s analysis of the labour-value dynamic embedded in the ongoing social reproduction debates. Participants will be asked to explore the idea that a deeper look into Marx’s critique of the movement of value and its expression in capital’s inherent crisis tendency reveals that the analysis of unwaged, creative, life-reproducing activity in all its current and limitless forms is better understood as supplementing, rather than succeeding, Marx’s analysis.
Beverley Best is Associate Professor in the department of sociology and anthropology at Concordia University.
This lecture is presented by the Social Justice Centre and is part of the Social Justice Speaker Series. To view the full list of our events, visit our Calendar.