This text introduces the Archivio di Lotta Femminista per il salario al lavoro domestico, which contains a wealth of material collected from the 1970s to the present, all graciously donated by Mariarosa Dalla Costa after years of work as a militant in the Feminist Movement and as a scholar of the condition of women. The archive, based in Padua, Italy, collects a broad range of inventoried material from a strand of the Feminist Movement which, in Italy, first called itself Movimento di Lotta Femminile (Women’s Struggle Movement), then later Lotta Femminista (Feminist Struggle) and finally Movimento dei Gruppi e Comitati per il Salario al Lavoro Domestico (Movement of Groups and Committees for Wages for Housework).
My intention is to talk about social reproduction in the context of a specific social environment. Social reproduction versus the reproduction of individuals, public versus private, manipulated and regulated versus free and autonomous, frustration and solitude versus joyous cooperation.
I believe that intimacy, together with other social and intellectual practices that are necessary for the reproduction of our collectivity, is being appropriated today by the capitalist machine and, in the same movement, transferred from the collective sphere to that of the nuclear unit and from the sphere of reproduction to that of the market economy.
For me, the usefulness of the social reproduction frame to understanding sexuality grows out of the current situation of queer politics. On the one hand, we have won rights that I never could have imagined when I first came out in the 1970s. Yet, we have fallen far short of the vision of sexual liberation.
The key to developing a sufficiently dynamic understanding of the working class, I will argue, is the framework of social reproduction. In thinking about the working class, it is essential to recognize that workers have an existence beyond the workplace. The theoretical challenge therefore lies in understanding the relationship between this existence and that of their productive lives under the direct domination of the capitalist. The relationship between these spheres will in turn help us consider strategic directions for class struggle.
How should we look at social reproduction? It has been about 35 years since the publication of The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital, and the world has radically changed since then. 1 Society has changed faster than our capacity to re-forge the theoretical and methodological toolbox at our disposal. It is time to ask: what is happening… Read more →
Although the Wages for Housework campaign was launched at the very beginning of the 1970s, it was not until 1978 that Carol Leigh, an American sex worker and feminist activist, coined the term “sex work.” And if the claim for “Wages for Housework” might not have the same relevance today now that a large part of domestic work has been commodified – former housewives who have entered the labor market have partly delegated this work to poorer women, especially migrant women – the claim that “sex work is work,” considering the active and often heated discussions it generates, seems more important than ever in our contemporary moment.
Vint Cerf, co-designer of the internet’s basic architecture and a vice president for research with Google, recently sounded the alarm about “bit rot” or the degradation of data files. He warns that we’re facing a “forgotten century” of historical documentation because we lack the computer software and hardware necessary to read obsolete computer files. 1 Reflect on what this means… Read more →
Over the whole land, Negro women meet this triple exploitation – as workers, as women, and as Negroes. About 85 per cent of all Negro women workers are domestics, two-thirds of the two million domestic workers in the United States. In smaller numbers they are found in other forms of personal service. Other employment open to them is confined mainly to laundries and the tobacco factories of Virginia and the Carolinas, where working conditions are deplorable.
In Latin America, the perspectives of popular economy and social economy have challenged the individualist paradigm, focusing on the satisfaction of collective needs. Their conceptual developments result from the region’s particular context and history, thereby breaking with the universalist pretensions of orthodox economics and revealing the historical character of economic processes as well as the heterogeneity of its practices.