Wages for Housework Redux

Variations welcomes Beverley Best, author of Marx and the Dynamic of the Capital Formation: An Aesthetics of Political Economy, on Friday, April 19 from 4-5:30pm in Cherpack Seminar Room (543 Williams Hall).

This event is sponsored by: Department of Romance Languages, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA), Political Economy of Gender Working Group, Department of Sociology, Department of English, Program in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory.

In preparation for this event, Variations will hold a special reading group session on Friday, April 12. This meeting is open to everyone. You can learn all about our reading group here.


Wages for Housework Redux: Feminist Marxism, Social Reproduction, and the Utopian Dialectic of the Value Form.

Wages for Housework! This audacious, resolute and politically subversive demand on the part of feminist Marxists 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, ‘updated’ 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. The 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 displacing, Marx’s analysis.

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