Feminist theorists today are increasingly returning to the insight that ‘capitalist society’ must constitute the critical frame for understanding contemporary forms of women’s subordination and feminist struggles to overcome it. This renewed interest in the connections between feminism and capitalism raises a host of difficult questions concerning capitalism, socialism as an alternative to it, the challenges feminism presents to both of them, and the challenges they present to it.
What is capitalism? Can it be adequately conceived in gender-blind fashion or is capitalism’s social organization inherently androcentric, incapable in principle of instantiating egalitarian forms of gender relation? How can we best characterize the historically specific features of gender asymmetry in capitalist societies? How do capitalism’s gender asymmetries relate to its other characteristic forms of domination, including class exploitation, imperialist predation, racial/ethnic subjugation, and ecological devastation? What sorts of challenges do such ‘intersections’ pose for feminist struggles in capitalist contexts? How have feminist movements responded to these challenges in the course of history?
Are feminism and socialism natural ‘bedfellows’? How have they actually related to each other in the course of history? Can ‘socialist-feminist’ theories centered on the organization of social labor do justice to gendered asymmetries of sexuality, status, and psyche?
Finally, how do these problems appear today? What specific forms do gender asymmetry and feminist struggle assume in societies where capitalism is financialized, globalizing and neoliberal? How might the current conditions require revising classical theories that have sought to clarify the relations between feminism, capitalism, socialism and social transformation?
In this seminar, we survey some important attempts, both historical and contemporary, to answer these questions. By working through the respective insights and omissions of various authors, we also aim to develop some answers of our own.
Readings from such thinkers as: Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Alexandra Kollontai, Sylvia Pankhurst, Emma Goldman, Simone de Beauvoir, Catharine MacKinnon, Lise Vogel, Juliet Mitchell, Shulamith Firestone, Maria Mies, Eli Zaretsky, Heidi Hartman, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, Angela Y. Davis, Michael Hardt and Toni Negri, Cindi Katz, Nancy Folbre, Cinzia Arruzza, Johanna Oksala, Judith Butler, Kathi Weeks, Sue Ferguson, Rosemary Hennessey, and Kevin Floyd.
1. February 3: Introduction
2. February 10: Marx
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “Manifesto of the Communist Party” (Part I only) in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (Norton 1978), pp. 469-483
Karl Marx, selections from Capital volume I in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (Norton 1978), pp. 302-438
Heather Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study (Haymarket Books, 2013), chapter 3, pp. 52-98
3. February 17: Engels
Friedrich Engel’s Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, selections in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (Norton 1978), pp. 734-59
Heather Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study (Haymarket Books, 2013), chapter 5, pp. 133-175
Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, chapter on “The Point of View of Historical Materialism,” pp. 62-68 (pdf)
Carol C. Gould, “Engels’s Origins: A Feminist Critique,” in Engels after Marx, ed. Manfred B. Steger and Terrell Carver (Penn State Press, 1999) pp. 254–260 (pdf)
Lise Vogel, “Engels: A Defective Formulation,” chapter 6 in Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women (Rutgers UP 1983), pp. 73 – 92 (pdf)
Terrell Caver, “Marxism and Feminism: Living with your Ex,” in Karl Marx and Contemporary Philosophy, ed. Andrew Chitty and Martin McIvor (Palgrave 2009), pp. 255–268 (pdf)
4. February 24: Feminism, Communism, Anarchism: Dangerous Liaisons?
Alexandra Kollontai, “Sexual Relations and the Class Struggle,” “Communism and the Family” and “Make Way for Winged Eros: A Letter to Working Youth,” all in Alexandra Kollontai, Selected Writings (W. W. Norton 1977), pp. 237-249, 250-260, 276-292 (pdf)
Sylvia Pankhurst, “A constitution for British soviets. Points for a communist programme,” Workers’ Dreadnought (19 June 1920) at: http://libcom.org/library/constitution-british-soviets-points-communist-programme-sylvia-pankhurst
Sylvia Pankhurst, “Cooperative Housekeeping,” Workers’ Dreadnought (28 August 1920) at: http://libcom.org/library/co-operative-housekeeping-sylvia-pankhurst
Sylvia Pankhurst, “Women members of parliament,” Workers’ Dreadnought (15 December 1923) at: http://libcom.org/library/women-members-parliament-sylvia-pankhurst
Emma Goldman, “Marriage and Love,” at: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/aando/marriageandlove.html
Emma Goldman, “The Traffic in Women,” at: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/aando/traffic.html
Emma Goldman, “Anarchy and the Sex Question,” on line at: http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/sexquestion.html
5. March 3: Sex, Family and the Second-Wave: With or Contra Marxism?
Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), 1st and last chapters (“The Dialectic of Sex” and “The Ultimate Revolution: Demands and Speculations”), pp. 3-14, 175-216.
Juliet Mitchell, “Women: The Longest Revolution,” New Left Review 40 (December 1966): 11-37 (pdf)
Eli Zaretsky, Capitalism, The Family and Personal Life (Harper & Row, 1976), pp. 1-19, 59-65 (pdf)
Catharine MacKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory,” Signs vol. 7 no. 3 (1982): 515-544 (pdf)
Linda Nicholson, “Feminism and Marx: Integrating kinship with the economic,” in Feminism as critique, ed.Seyla Benhabib and Drucilla Cornell (University of Minnesota Press, 1987), pp. 16-30 (pdf)
Nina Power, “Toward a Cybernetic Communism: The Technology of the Anti-Family,” Further Adventures of The Dialectic of Sex: Critical Essays on Shulamith Firestone, ed. Mandy Merck and Stella Sandford (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), pp. 163–196 (pdf)
6. March 10: Marxist-Feminism, Domestic Labor, and Dual Systems Theory
Cinzia Arruzza, “Remarks on Gender,” Viewpoint Magazine online at: https://viewpointmag.com/2014/09/02/remarks-on-gender/
Margaret Benston, “The Political Economy of Women’s Liberation,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 17-23
Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James, “Women and the Subversion of Community,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 33-40
Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Patriarchy and Capitalism: Toward a More Progressive Union,” Capital & Class 3, 2 (1979): 1 – 33 (pdf)
Gloria Joseph, “The Incompatible Menage à Trois: Marxism, Feminism and Racism,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 107-110
Iris Marion Young: “Socialist Feminism and the Limits of Dual Systems Theory” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 95–106
Angela Y. Davis, “The Approaching Obsolescence of Housework: A Working-Class Perspective,” in Davis, Women, Race and Class (1981) online at: https://www.marxists.org/subject/women/authors/davis-angela/housework.htm
Nancy Fraser, “Feminist Politics in the Age of Recognition: A Two-Dimensional Approach to Gender Justice,” in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism (Verso 2013), pp. 159-174
7. March 17: Intersectionality: Race, Class, Gender
Angela Y. Davis, “Reflections on the Black Woman’s Role in the Community of Slaves,” The Massachusetts Review, 13,2 (1972): 81-100 (pdf)
Rose Brewer, “Theorizing Race, Class, and Gender: The New Scholarship of Black Feminist Intellectuals and Black Women’s Labor,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 236–247
Deborah King, “Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness,” Signs 14:1 (Autumn 1988) 42–72 (pdf)
Karen Brodkin Sacks, “Toward a unified theory of class, race, and gender,” American Ethnologistvol. 16, no. 3 (1989): 534–550 (pdf)
Nancy Fraser and Linda Gordon, “A Genealogy of ‘Dependency’: Tracing a Keyword of the US Welfare State,” in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013), pp. 83-110
Johanna Brenner, “Intersections, Locations, and Capitalist Class Relations: Intersectionality from a Marxist Perspective,” in The Socialist Feminist Project, ed. Nancy Holmstrom (Monthly Review Press, 2002), pp. 326–348 (pdf)
March 24: No class, spring break
8. March 31: Social Reproduction
Susan Ferguson and David McNally. “Capital, Labour-Power, and Gender Relations,” in Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory (Brill, 2013), pp. XVII – XL (pdf).
Lise Vogel, “The Reproduction of Labor Power,” in Vogel, Marxism and the Oppression of Women: Toward a Unitary Theory (Brill, 2013), pp. 141–156 (pdf)
Evelyn Glenn, “From Servitude to Service Work: Historical Continuities in the Racial Division of Paid Reproductive Labor,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 18, no. 1 (Autumn 1992): 1-43 (pdf)
Nancy Folbre and Julie Nelson, “For Love or Money?” The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14:4 (2000): 123-140 (pdf)
Nancy Fraser, “After the Family Wage: A Postindustrial Thought Experiment,” in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013), pp. 111-135
Cindi Katz, “Vagabond Capitalism and the Necessity of Social Reproduction,” Antipode (2001), pp. 709-728 (pdf)
Cinzia Arruzza, “Social Reproduction Feminism and its Critics,” Science & Society (forthcoming) (pdf)
9. April 7: Primitive Accumulation, Imperialism, and the International Division of Labor
Maria Mies, “Colonization and Housewifization,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 175–185
Brigitte Young, “The ‘Mistress’ and the ‘Maid’ in the Globalized Economy,” Socialist Register vol. 37 (2001): 315–327 (pdf)
Arlie Hochschild, “Love and Gold.” Global Woman: Nannies, Maids and Sex Workers in the New Economy, ed. Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Hochschild. New York: Henry Holt, 2002: 15-30 (pdf)
Saskia Sassen, “Women’s Burden: Counter-Geographies of Globalization and the Feminization of Survival,” Journal of International Affairs 53,2 (2000): 503–524 (pdf)
Christine Keating, Claire Rasmussen, and Pooja Rishi, “ The Rationality of Empowerment: Microcredit, Accumulation by Dispossession, and the Gendered Economy,” Signs 36, 1 (2010): 153-176 (pdf)
Jennifer Bair, “On Difference and Capital: Gender and the Globalization of Production.” Signs 36, 1 (2010): 203-226 (pdf)
10. April 14: Capitalism, Desire, Sexuality
Judith Butler, “Merely Cultural,” New Left Review I/227 (1998): 33–44 (pdf)
Nancy Fraser, “Heterosexism, Misrecognition and Capitalism: A Response to Judith Butler,” in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism (Verso 2013), pp. 175-186
Kevin Floyd, The Reification of Desire (University Of Minnesota Press, 2009), pp. 1-38, 195-226.
Rosemary Hennessy, Profit and Pleasure (Routledge, 2000), pp. 37-73.
11. April 21: Affective Labor
Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Commonwealth (The Belknap Press, 2011), pp. 131-178 (pdf)
Michael Hardt, “Affective Labor,” boundary 26:2 (1999): 89-100 (pdf)
Kathi Weeks, “Life Within and Against Work: Affective Labor, Feminist Critique, and Post-Fordist Politics.” Ephemera, theory & politics in organization 7, 1 (2007): 233–249 (pdf)
Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries, chapters 3 and 4 (Duke University Press, 2011), pp. 113-174 (pdf)
Arlie Hochschild, “Feeling Management,” The Managed Heart (University of California Press, 1983), pp. 89-136 (pdf)
Johanna Oksala, “Affective Labor and Feminist Politics,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society (2016) (pdf)
Susanna Uhde, “From Women’s Struggles to Distorted Emancipation: The Interplay of Care Practices and Global Capitalism” (unpublished manuscript; pdf)
12. April 28: Neoliberalism, Financialization and the Reconstitution of the Gender Order
Diane Elson, “Economic Crisis from the 1980s to the 2010s: A Gender Analysis,” in New Frontiers in Feminist Political Economy, ed. Shirin Rai and Georgina Waylen (Routledge, 2013), pp. 189-212 (pdf)
Lourdes Benería, “Neoliberalism and the Global Economic Crisis: A View from Feminist Economics,” in UnderDevelopment: Gender,ed. Christine Verschuur, Isabelle Guérin and Hélène Guétat-Bernard (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 257–289 (pdf)
Genevieve LeBaron, “The Political Economy of the Household: Neoliberal Restructuring, Enclosures, and Daily Life,” Review of International Political Economy 17, 5 (2010): 889–912 (pdf)
Adrienne Roberts,” Financing Social Reproduction: The Gendered Relations of Debt and Mortgage Finance in Twenty-First Century America,” New Political Economy 18, 1 (2013): 21-42 (pdf)
Johanna Oksala, “The Neoliberal Subject of Feminism,” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 42, 1 (2011): 104–120 (pdf)
Nancy Fraser, “Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History, in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013), pp. 209–226
13. May 5: 21st century Feminism against Capitalism?
Nancy Fraser, “Behind Marx’s Hidden Abode: For an Expanded Conception of Capitalism.” New Left Review 86 (2014): 55-72 (pdf)
Gwyn Kirk, “Standing on Solid Ground: A Materialist Ecological Feminism,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 345-363
Meera Nanda, “History is What Hurts: A Materialist Feminist Perspective on the Green Revolution and its Ecofeminist Critics,” in Materialist Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives, ed. Rosemary Hennessey and Chris Ingraham (Routledge 1997), pp. 364-394.
Nancy Fraser, “Between Marketization and Social Protection: Resolving the Feminist Ambivalence,” in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013), pp. 227–241
Johanna Brenner, “21st Century SocialistFeminism,” Socialist Studies / Études socialistes 10, 1 (2014): 31–49 (pdf)
Johanna Oksala, “Feminism and Neoliberal Governmentality,” Foucault Studies 16 (2013): 32–53 (pdf)
The following books are required for this course:
The Marx-Engels Reader , ed. Robert C. Tucker (Norton 1978)
Heather Brown, Marx on Gender and the Family: A Critical Study (Haymarket Books, 2013)
Shulamith Firestone, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003)
Materialist-Feminism: A Reader in Class, Difference, and Women’s Lives , ed.
Rosemary Hennessy and Chrys Ingraham (Routledge, 1997)
Nancy Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013)
Rosemary Hennessy, Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism (Routledge, 2000)
Kevin Floyd, The Reification of Desire: Toward a Queer Marxism (Univ Of Minnesota Press, 2009)
All of these books are available for purchase at Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington (212-777-6028) or from store representatives at the first class meeting on January 27–bring credit cards, checks, or cash!
1. Regular attendance
2. Active participation in seminar discussions
3. A post-seminar “thought piece” (4-6 pages, double-spaced, maximum 2000 words), reflecting on the readings and discussions at one class meeting, in a form that is both illuminating for the participants and accessible to others. The essay should be emailed to GoldfarJ@newschool.edu by 12 noon on the Monday following the class meeting it discusses. It will be posted on the NSSR blog, Public Seminar: https://publicseminar.org/publicseminar/#.VMpjXSgQhzQ
4. A 2 page prospectus for a term paper on a topic of your choice, due April 14
5. A term paper of approximately 15 pages (double-spaced), following the plan of an approved prospectus. Due May 12.
One thought on “Feminism, Capitalism and Social Transformation”
Hello, how can one participate in the Seminar? Is it via web? I am very interested.