For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale

by Mies, Maria (1986)

Key Passage

It is thus necessary, with regard to the concept of productivity of labour, to reject its narrow definitionand to show that labour can only be productive in the sense of producing surplus value as long as it can tap,extract, exploit, and appropriate that labour which is spent in the production of life, or in subsistence productionwhich is non-wage labour mainly done by women. As this production of life is the perennial preconditionof all other historical forms of productive labour, including that under conditions of capital accumulation,it has to be defined as work and not as unconscious 'natural' activity. Human beings do not only live: they produce their life.I will call the labour that goes into the production of life productive labour in the broad sense of producing use values for the satisfaction of human needs. The separation from and the superimposition of surplus-producinglabour over life-producing labour is an abstraction which leads to the fact that women and their work are being ‘defined into nature’. (p.47)


No Keywords


Social Reproduction, Women and Work, Living Labour, Maria Mies, Concepts of Work



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