For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Feminist Politics and Human Nature

by Jaggar, Alison M (1983)



Key Passage

The traditional Marxist categories were not designed to capture the essential features of the sexual division of labor, and it is doubtful whether they are capable of doing the job. Within the public economy, for instance, there is in fact a sharp separation between jobs that are considered appropriate for men and those that are considered suitable for women; men and women rarely work side by side at the same job. The gender-blind categories of Marxist theory, however, obscure rather than reveal this fact. Even more seriously, the central Marxist categories hardly apply at all to the household, which is the traditional area of women's work. Marxist theory focuses primarily on production, and it defines household work, especially the household work of capitalism, as being outside production. Instead, household work is defined as reproduction, that is, the reproduction of human labor power. Reproduction itself is broken down into two parts: the daily regeneration of the labor power of existing workers, through rest and food; and the production of new workers through childbearing and childrearing. Thus, reproduction consists in both consumption and procreation. Women are responsible traditionally for much of the former, though of course men must eat the food that women prepare, and women are held traditionally to be responsible for almost all of the latter. (p.74)


Feminism, Gender Theory, Critical Theory, Women And Work, Discrimination, Liberal Feminism


Social Reproduction, Domestic Labour, Women and Work, Marx, Feminism

Links to Reference



How to contribute.