Presentation on theme: "Gender Inequality: Marxist and Feminist views"— Presentation transcript:
1Gender Inequality: Marxist and Feminist views Week 8Gender and Society
2Recap Social construction of gender Considered the role of different structures such as education and work in the construction of genderLiberal feminism Equality / Difference debate
3Outline Introduce Marxism Feminist critiques Reproductive labour Dual systems theory
4Marxist theoryCapitalism is the basis for the organisation of society (economic determinism)Two main classesBourgeoisieOwners of the means of productionProletariatHave no choice but to sell their labour
5Marxist theory Wage labour is key to production Profits arise through exploitation (surplus value)Classes produced through relations of production
6Marxist theory The workers transform raw materials to make profits. Profits go to the shareowners and directors
7Engels ‘Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State’ 1884 New forms of production allowed men to gain ‘surplus’ leading to wealth and powerMonogamous marriage developed to allow men to pass on propertySex oppression is also classoppression
8Engels‘In the great majority of cases today, at least in the possessing classes, the husband is obliged to earn a living and support his family, and that in itself gives him a position of supremacy, without any need for special legal titles and privileges. Within the family he is the bourgeois and the wife represents the proletariat…. With the transfer of the means of production into common ownership, the single family ceases to be the economic unit of society. Private housekeeping is transformed into a social industry’
9Engels on Marriage Marriage is based on economic conditions Although constructed as a voluntary contract it is coerced by the organisation of society.Bourgeoisie wives are similar to prostitutes they sell their bodies to one man rather than many
10Marxist theoryTo what extent do you think this model is a useful way of understanding society?
11‘The woman question’1960s revised interest in Marx and Engles’ writingsBut it didn’t seem to account very well for women.Two strands of feminism emergedAdding the theory of reproduction to that of productionMarxist feminismDual systems theories - capitalism & patriarchySocialist feminism
12Theory of Reproduction Marxism is based on a divide relating to the relationship to the means of productionBourgeoisieProletariatWomen’s domestic workdoes not fit into this picture
13Theory of Reproduction Women’s labour is important in two dimensionsTheir labour in the home is necessary for workers to be employedThey physically give birth to the next generation of workers
14Reproducing the labour force Capitalism requires workersWomen have to give birth and care for children in order to restock the labour force
15Marxist feminism‘Relations of production, grounded as they are in a deeply ideological division of labour, cannot be investigated through economic categories alone. (…) the capitalist division of labour is not determined by technical requirements alone’.Barrett M (1980) Women’s Oppression Today London, Verso
16Marxist feminism Capitalism is the primary cause of women’s oppression Reforming or ending capitalism is the primary goal
17Talk to the person sitting next to you about the to extent to which you think capitalism may be responsible for women’s oppression.
18LimitationsTheorising reproduction went some way to explaining women’s position, but it could not answer many questionsWhy were/are women oppressed in non-capitalist countries?Why are women paid less than men?Why are women responsible for domestic sphere?
19Socialist feminismFor socialist feminism, Marxist ideas on class oppression are importantBut they do not fully explain women’s positionDeveloped dual systemsapproachDifferent combinationsof capitalism and patriarchy
20Capitalism and patriarchy Hartmann shows that capitalism and patriarchy often work against each other but do not destroy each otherCapitalism and patriarchy may have competing interests and need to adjust to each other.
21Reproducing for capitalism If women did not work in the home then workers could not sell their labourEat, sleep, keep healthy etcIf workers had to pay for theseservices then wages would have to go up
22Not class alone Women’s oppression is related to their class position Not paid properly for their labour either in or out of the homeBut patriarchal privilege is also a central structure to societyRacism also recognised as interrelating to class and gender oppression
23Patriarchal Capitalism Traditional heterosexual families developed within an institutionalized sexual hierarchyWomen have primary responsibility for the home and childrenWomen may be excluded from the marketplace (unpaid housewives)Women could be hired at lower wages than men because their primary responsibility was considered to be home and family.
24To overcome gender inequality Class oppression through reform/ending capitalismPatriarchal oppression through challenging the traditional family
25Area of interest/activism Socialist feminist concentrates on the material and historical conditions in which women liveHeterosexuality is a structure that needs to be understood as part of women’s oppressionEmployment conditions and recognising women’s unpaid workState involvement in perpetuating women’s position (welfare organisation)Access to contraception and abortion essential for women’s autonomy
26Do you think the ideas of socialist feminism are more likely to explain women’s position in society?
27Comparison to Liberal Feminism Liberal feminism concentrates of formal mechanisms in the public sphere to challenge inequalityA level playing field?It does not challenge the structure of society itself.Marxist/Socialist feminism argue that the structure needs to change to end inequality
28Summary Considered how feminist theory has interrelated with Marxism Outline concept of ‘Reproduction’ of the workforceConsidered dual systems theories of capitalism and patriarchy
29Next week Looking at radical feminism Considering concept of patriarchy in more detailOutlining the ‘continuum of sexual violence’