wages for housework

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pages: 277 words: 80,703

Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle by Silvia Federici

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Community Supported Agriculture, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, global village, illegal immigration, informal economy, invisible hand, labor-force participation, land tenure, means of production, microcredit, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Occupy movement, planetary scale, Scramble for Africa, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, the market place, trade liberalization, UNCLOS, wages for housework, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

The Revolutionary Perspective If we start from this analysis we can see the revolutionary implications of the demand for wages for housework. It is the demand by which our nature ends and our struggle begins because just to want wages for housework means to refuse that work as the expression of our nature, and therefore to refuse precisely the female role that capital has invented for us. To ask for wages for housework will by itself undermine the expectations that society has of us, since these expectations—the essence of our socialization—are all functional to our wageless condition in the home. In this sense, it is absurd to compare the struggle of women for wages for housework to the struggle of male workers in the factory for more wages. In struggling for more wages, the waged worker challenges his social role but remains within it. When we struggle for wages for housework we struggle unambiguously and directly against our social role.

Neuroses, suicides, desexualization: occupational diseases of the housewife. Many times the difficulties and ambiguities that women express in discussing wages for housework stem from the fact that they reduce wages for housework to a thing, a lump of money, instead of viewing it as a political perspective. The difference between these two standpoints is enormous. To view wages for housework as a thing rather than a perspective is to detach the end result of our struggle from the struggle itself and to miss its significance in demystifying and subverting the role to which women have been confined in capitalist society. When we view wages for housework in this reductive way we start asking ourselves: what difference could more money make to our lives? We might even agree that for a lot of women who do not have any choice except for housework and marriage, it would indeed make a lot of difference.

And then my reading Mariarosa Dalla Costa’s Women and the Subversion of the Community (1970), a pamphlet that was to become one of the most discussed feminist documents of the era. By the time I read the last page, I knew that I had found my home, my tribe and my own self, as a woman and a feminist. From that also stemmed my involvement in the Wages for Housework campaign that women like Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James were organizing in Italy and Britain, and my decision to start, in 1973, Wages for Housework groups in the United States. Of all the positions that developed in the women’s movement, Wages for Housework was likely the most controversial and often the most antagonized. I think that marginalizing the struggle for wages for housework was a serious mistake that weakened the movement. It seems to me now, more than ever, that if the women’s movement is to regain its momentum and not be reduced to another pillar of a hierarchical system, it must confront the material condition of women’s lives.


pages: 357 words: 95,986

Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work by Nick Srnicek, Alex Williams

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, air freight, algorithmic trading, anti-work, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, battle of ideas, blockchain, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, centre right, collective bargaining, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, deskilling, Doha Development Round, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, housing crisis, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, intermodal, Internet Archive, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, market design, Martin Wolf, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, patent troll, pattern recognition, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, precariat, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, reshoring, Richard Florida, rising living standards, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Slavoj Žižek, social web, stakhanovite, Steve Jobs, surplus humans, the built environment, The Chicago School, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, universal basic income, wages for housework, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

In other words, the nature of work would become a measure of its value, not merely its profitability.114 The outcome of this revaluation would also mean that, as wages for the worst jobs rose, there would be new incentives to automate them. UBI therefore forms a positive-feedback loop with the demand for full automation. On the other hand, a basic income would not only transform the value of the worst jobs, but also go some way towards recognising the unpaid labour of most care work. In the same way that the demand for wages for housework recognised and politicised the domestic labour of women, so too does UBI recognise and politicise the generalised way in which we are all responsible for reproducing society: from informal to formal work, from domestic to public work, from individual to collective work. What is central is not productive labour, defined in either traditional Marxist or neoclassical terms, but rather the more general category of reproductive labour.115 Given that we all contribute to the production and reproduction of capitalism, our activity deserves to be remunerated as well.116 In recognising this, the UBI indicates a shift from remuneration based upon ability to remuneration based upon basic need.117 All the genetic, historical and social variations that make effort a poor measure of a person’s worth are rejected here, and instead people are valued simply for being people.

It enables experimentation with different forms of family and community structure that are no longer bound to the model of the privatised nuclear family.119 And financial independence can reconfigure intimate relationships as well: one of the more unexpected findings of experiments with UBI has been that the divorce rate tended to rise.120 Conservative commentators jumped on this as proof of the demand’s immorality, but higher divorce rates are easily explained as women gaining the financial means to leave dysfunctional relationships.121 A basic income can therefore enable easier experimentation with the family structure, more possibilities for the provision of childcare and an easier transformation of the gendered division of labour. Moreover, unlike the demand for ‘wages for housework’ in the 1970s, the demand for UBI promises to break out of the wage relation rather than reinforce it. While a universal basic income may appear economically reformist, its political implications are therefore significant. It transforms precarity, it recognises social labour, it makes class power easier to mobilise, and it extends the space in which to experiment with how we organise communities and families.

Paul Cockshott and Allin Cottrell, Towards a New Socialism (Nottingham: Spokesman, 1993), p. 27; Karl Marx, Critique of the Gotha Program (New York: International, 1966), pp. 8–10. 118.Weeks, Problem with Work, p. 149. 119.Mckay and Vanevery, ‘Gender, Family, and Income Maintenance’, p. 280. 120.Hum and Simpson, ‘A Guaranteed Annual Income?’, p. 81. 121.This is one reason why the UBI is a better demand than that of wages for housework. Weeks, Problem with Work, p. 144. 122.Raventós, Basic Income, Chapter 8; Chancer, ‘Benefitting from Pragmatic Vision, Part I’, pp. 120–2; Guy Standing, ‘The Precariat Needs a Basic Income’ Financial Times, 21 November 2013; Gorz, Paths to Paradise, p. 45. 123.For an eloquent polemic against the work ethic, see Federico Campagna, The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure (Winchester: Zero, 2013). 124.Steensland, Failed Welfare Revolution, pp. 13–18. 125.Ibid., p. 17. 126.Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval, The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society, transl.


pages: 378 words: 110,518

Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future by Paul Mason

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Alfred Russel Wallace, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, capital controls, Claude Shannon: information theory, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, Corn Laws, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, deglobalization, deindustrialization, deskilling, discovery of the americas, Downton Abbey, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, financial repression, Firefox, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, inflation targeting, informal economy, Internet of things, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, low skilled workers, market clearing, means of production, Metcalfe's law, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, payday loans, post-industrial society, precariat, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, secular stagnation, sharing economy, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, supply-chain management, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Transnistria, union organizing, universal basic income, urban decay, urban planning, wages for housework, women in the workforce

Rich people are already surrounded by such post-modern servants, but to replace 47 per cent of all jobs this way would require the mass commercialization of ordinary human life. And here’s where you hit the third obstacle – what philosopher André Gorz called the ‘limits of economic rationality’.37 At a certain level, human life and interaction resist commercialization. An economy in which large numbers of people perform micro-services for each other can exist, but as a form of capitalism it would be highly inefficient and intrinsically low-value. You could pay wages for housework, turn all sexual relationships into paid work, mums with their toddlers in the park could charge each other a penny each time they took turns to push the swings. But it would be an economy in revolt against technological progress. Early capitalism, when it forced people into factories, had to turn large parts of the non-market lifestyle into a serious crime: if you lost your job you were arrested as a vagrant; if you poached game, as your ancestors had always done, it became a hanging offence.


pages: 464 words: 116,945

Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, California gold rush, call centre, central bank independence, clean water, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, colonial rule, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, falling living standards, fiat currency, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Food sovereignty, Frank Gehry, future of work, global reserve currency, Guggenheim Bilbao, income inequality, informal economy, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, market clearing, Martin Wolf, means of production, microcredit, new economy, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, peak oil, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wages for housework, Wall-E, women in the workforce, working poor, working-age population

While this is an important issue within capitalism and is doubtless implicated in many personal crises within households, it has had very little direct impact on the development of capital, except for a long-standing general trend to broaden the market by commodifying more and more domestic tasks (such as cooking, cleaning, washing one’s hair and getting nails clipped and manicured). The campaign over wages for housework would, in any case, seem to be seriously askew from an anti-capitalist perspective because it merely deepens the penetration of monetisation and commodification into the intimacies of daily life rather than using household work as a lever to try to decommodify as many forms of social provision as possible. It is here that the contradictions of capital and of capitalism intersect. It has long been the case that specific trades have often, for example, been strongly and sometimes even exclusively associated with particular ethnic, religious or racial groups in a population.


pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein

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1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

It wanted women not only to get equal pay for equal work in traditional jobs but to have their work in the home caring for children and the elderly recognized and compensated as a massive unacknowledged market subsidy—essentially a demand for wealth redistribution on a scale greater than the New Deal. But as we know, while these movements won huge battles against institutional discrimination, the victories that remained elusive were those that, in King’s words, could not be purchased “at bargain rates.” There would be no massive investments in jobs, schools, and decent homes for African Americans, just as the 1970s women’s movement would not win its demand for “wages for housework” (indeed paid maternity leave remains a battle in large parts of the world). Sharing legal status is one thing; sharing resources quite another. If there is an exception to this rule it is the huge gains won by the labor movement in the aftermath of the Great Depression—the massive wave of unionization that forced owners to share a great deal more wealth with their workers, which in turn helped create a context to demand ambitious social programs like Social Security and unemployment insurance (programs from which the majority of African American and many women workers were notably excluded).